Mumbai, Jan 13 (IANS) India football team’s coach Stephen Constantine took a dig at South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Cup 2015 organisers for poor management and providing unplayable training pitches before the matches. India hosted the tournament in Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala. The coach also mentioned that before the competition no one thought the hosts would cross the group stages, which they ultimately won by beating Afghanistan 2-1 in extra-time to claim their seventh title.
“I don’t think going into the competition anyone thought we would get out of the group stage let alone win it! On top of the playing issues we also had all sorts of problems from the organisational side of things, the hotels didn’t have enough rooms, the team buses were often late, no training pitches available and well you get the picture,” Constantine wrote in his personal blog on Tuesday. “All I will say is, it was a joke and SAFF really need to sort this out once and for all – 7 teams in one venue with 2 unplayable training pitches,” he said.
The 53-year-old English coach also pointed out that it is a huge disadvantage that Indian players are not given enough time to train with the national side. “Afghanistan were always the hot favourites for everyone to win SAFF tournament as their experience and quality was there for all to see. They did not however take into consideration the tenacity or the fitness levels of our young players,” he said.
“This brings me to into the why we need more time with the players in our training camps, as what is required in an international game at any level far surpasses what is happening in our domestic game.” “To give you an example a team in the ISL trained and played a 90 min game over five days, all of this work combined did not equal a single International game!! In other words the fitness levels in the ISL do not compare with what we need at the International level so we are at a huge disadvantage when we don’t get the players,” the former Rwanda coach added. He also thanked the team form putting up a spirited show in the entire competition.
“I am really delighted for the players, staff and fans who were amazing. This win was particularly special for a number of reasons, I am the only foreign coach to win the SAFF with India, we won all four of our games in the SAFF, the average age of the team was 23, and we won it without several key players,” he said. “The 45,000 fans were amazing and must give themselves a huge pat on the back as without their support I am not sure if we would have won it,” Constantine concluded.