New Delhi: Former India football coach Stephen Constantine heaped praise on current head Bob Houghton for leading the team to its first Asian Cup in 27 years, considering the `political nonsense` prevailing in India.
"I think overall Bob has done a good job. It is not easy in India, given the political nonsense that is always there, and given the fact that the clubs do almost nothing to help themselves and even less when it comes to the national team. Put simply, it is fantastic he has got them to the Asian Cup, said Constantine.”
The ex-coach does not expect the team to qualify from the group, but is hoping to see some fighting performances so as to avoid being embarrassed by the big sides like Australia, South Korea and Bahrain.
"I would like to say that they are going to do well, but looking at the group they are in (Group C along with Australia, Bahrain and South Korea) it is going to be a very difficult task for them. I only hope that they don`t get embarrassed," Constantine said.
"India have nothing to lose, in as much as nobody expects them to qualify for the quarter-finals. So, if they can show some spirit and go down with a fight that would be a real plus," he added.”
Constantine also advised the world number 142 to play an attacking game rather than just defending.
"I think they will have to work very, very hard to close down their opponents and not sit back and try and defend for 90 minutes as that would, I feel, be a major mistake.”
"They must fight for everything until the final whistle, keep their concentration, avoid silly mistakes and work together. They have been together for a long time so there is a great team spirit and a will to succeed. India must also ensure that if they go a goal down they continue to work," the former coach was quoted as saying by a website.
Constantine, who guided the Indian team to its first major trophy in 40 years when they claimed the LG Cup in 2002, before guiding the senior team to silver medals in the South Asian Federation Cup and the Afro Asian Games, said Baichung Bhutia`s absence would be a massive blow for India.
"Baichung Bhutia`s absence would be a massive blow for India as he is not only a leader on the pitch but also a massive influence off it. Baichung is 34 and has been struggling with injury and would have been a major factor in India`s success.”
"I simply don`t see anyone able to replace him. He is one of the most professional players I have ever worked with, and I would take him with the squad anyway - injured or not," said Constantine.