Indian National Team coach Stephen Constantine termed the forthcoming Tri-Nation Football Series 2017 as a ‘stage to try new players’ where India are slated to kick-off their campaign against Mauritius at the Mumbai Football Arena on Saturday, August 19.
“We’re playing two games before the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers where I can try out more players. We got one team from the Caribbean region and another from Africa. It’s going to a tough test for us ahead of the Asian Cup qualifier,” he stated during the pre-match press conference ahead of the Hero Tri-Nation Football Series opener against Mauritius.
The National Team is on a roll having won 13 of their last 15 matches (including one unofficial friendly match against Bhutan in 2016).
“We haven’t played together since June. The ongoing camp and this tournament will help us get into the groove at the right time,” Constantine added.
India coach Constantine didn’t forget to mention that the U-23 boys are also contributing at their highest level in the ongoing camp. “We’ve taken 10 boys from the U-23 team and they’re here along with the senior pros. We have to continue the developmental process to qualify for the Asian Cup regularly, eventually, which would lead us to the World Cup,” Constantine mentioned.
Sandesh Jhingan who will Captain India against Mauritius felt the process is the “right way for the Indian Football to reach the next level”.
“Three years back when I came into the team, I was a young boy. During the course of the time, Borges and many a player debuted for the National Team. Now, 10 boys from the U-23 side are part of the Senior Team Camp. It only shows that we’re heading in the right direction.”
The newly-appointed skipper also lavished huge praise for the resilient defence who have clinched five clean sheets in last 8 matches, sharing credit with his colleagues.
“Off and on the field, I share a strong bonding with Anas which rightly reflects on the pitch. But it’s not only me or Anas, it’s about Pritam, Narayan and off-course Gurpreet. We have respect for each other and we complement each other. We really enjoy playing together and we’ll do so.”
The Mumbai Football Arena has always been a happy hunting ground for India so far. India came back strongly from a one-goal deficit to rout a the-then 114th ranked Puerto Rico in an International Friendly by a whopping 4-1 margin in September 2016 which was followed by another commanding 2-0 victory over Nepal on June 6 this year.
The match is scheduled to kick-off at 8pm and tickets are already up for sale on www.bookmyshow.com.