AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers: Stephen Constantine says Myanmar match 'first step' to prepare for showpiece event


Margao: Seeking to continue their unbeaten run, Indian football team coach Stephen Constantine said on Monday that the AFC Asian Cup Qualifier against Myanmar was the first step to prepare for the continental showpiece in 2019.

“This match is the first step to Asian Cup’s preparation which is precisely 14 months away,” he said at the official pre-match press conference at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Margao.

India coach Stephen Constantine (L) and captain Sunil Chhetri. AFP

Having won the first game 1-0, India play Myanmar in the return leg on Tuesday.

“The match allows us the opportunity to test the depth of our squad. Obviously, we are looking forward to it,” he maintained.

Constantine showed huge respect for the visitors and said that it could be “anyone’s game”.

“Myanmar are a very disciplined side. The coach is there for eight long years and he follows a similar system. We had a torrid time in Myanmar.”

Skipper Sunil Chhetri, whose stoppage time goal in the first leg ended a 64-year long wait to register a win in Myanmar, said, “I admit that they had a lot of ball possession. They kept us under tremendous pressure throughout. But at the end of the day, we took all three points.

“I will any day take three points at the end, no matter who has more ball possession.”

Referring to the Myanmar coach’s comments that he was ready to provide Chhetri with a Myanmar passport, he quipped: “Let’s not take away the credit from our defenders. As I remember, we defended for most of the time and they carried out the job with utmost precision.

“If he hands me a Myanmar passport, it is to be given to the defenders, Jeje, Udanta too,” the Indian captain said.

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