INDIA NATIONAL TEAM HEAD COACH

Stephen Constantine

Stephen Constantine UEFA Pro Licence Holder

Stephen Consatntine Football Soccer Logo AIFF

Welcome to my Blog

Here is where I share my latest news and of course my views on all things football....

By stephencon, Jan 21 2015 10:01AM




10 Years Ago with the Indian National Team
10 Years Ago with the Indian National Team

After 10 years, 4 national teams, a year in the English Championship and the Greek Super League not to mention several years in the Cypriot top league I will be heading over to India at the end of this month. I am really excted and looking forward to getting down to work.

India presents a huge challenge and another opportunity for me to do what I do best build teams, I know this is going to be a tough job for a number of reasons and it is a job that I will give everything I have, as I always do. Of course things have changed over the last 10 years and while there have been some very good steps forward there is much to do going forward.The introduction of the ISL has seen Indians embrace the beautiful game like never before, it has given new impetuous and now we must all pull together and get India back on the right track.


I must say however that it was not easy to leave Rwanda after we had done exceptionally well this past year, but after looking at everything that is happening in India and that I had the opportunity to be part of the process it was something I could not turn down.I of course would like to wish the players and the Association in Rwanda continued success and hope the climb up the FIFA rankings ladder goes on currently 68.!!


I am due to arrive at the end of this month and am really looking forward to getting down to work. One thing I will say is this, if we are to be successful it is going to take the entire Indian football community to make it happen


JAI HIND


By stephencon, Dec 23 2014 09:05AM

Some of the historic team of Rwanda
Some of the historic team of Rwanda

On December 18th 2014 Rwanda made history when the end of the year FIFA rankings were released with Rwanda placed at 68 in the world!! What a way to end the year ….I can’t thank the players enough for all the hard work, blood sweat and tears they have given to the cause. Honestly I have nothing but admiration for them and they deserve all the credit for this historical achievement. I must also thank the entire coaching staff that I had from the Kit Manager Peter to my assistant coach Vincent Mashame, of course I cannot fail to mention Nuhu and Mousa who made up my medical team as well as Ibrahim Sissoko or Ibby as I call him there work has been outstanding. The unsung hero is a guy called Bonnie Mugabe who is my team manager, what a job he has done and I can’t how much I have appreciated him and the work he has done. No job is too big and he does it with the minimum of fuss and simply gets on with the job, Mr Bonnie Mugabe thank you my man you are the best.



68 in the World & Best Mover of the Year
68 in the World & Best Mover of the Year


It has not been an easy time here in Rwanda and there are a great many issues that really need to be sorted out if the meteoric rise is to continue, I won’t go into the details as I don’t believe in airing internal problems, but there are one or two points that must be mentioned. Player’s allowances, and the dire need for the Rwandan National team to have its own kit sponsor are but two issues that for me require immediate attention. FEERWAFA and & the Government need to step up here and do the right thing by the players that is the least that they can do given what the player have done this past year.

Obviously I am absolutely delighted with the progress we have made in this past year and well am very proud that I was able to make history in Rwanda. I have always believed that I can do a job for any team I work for provided I am given a free hand to do the things I feel need to be done. I have worked all my career with limited resources and fully understand the financial constraints that clubs and national associations face. I always feel that if there is good will then good things will happen regardless of the financial situation and people can be very creative when they want to be.


On Saturday 20th of December we played an international friendly using our under 23 side against our neighbours Burundi, who used their senior national side the game ended in a 0-0 draw. Of course I would have liked to have won the game but the purpose was to begin to prepare the U23 or the Olympic team for the qualifiers in April, and this was our first game. We didn’t start particularly well and Burundi controlled things with their experienced players and had a couple of half chances in the first and had a couple of half chances in the first half. We made a couple of changes at half time and within minutes of the second half we had two great chances to score but the Burundi keeper made two back to back outstanding saves to deny us(he was the man of the match). As both teams introduced substitutions we began to have more of the ball and we started to pass the ball around a bit better. When Erneste Sugira hit the underside of the bar with a few minutes to go with a header you got the feeling that it wasn’t going to happen today and perhaps when all is said and done and a 0-0 draw was the right score. Another 3-4 youngsters made thier international debut and I make that around 10 or 11 new players that will go on and serve the national team for several years to come. So this bodes well for Rwandan football and long may that continue.


So as Christmas fast approaches I am heading back to Cyprus to spend some quality time with my family and really looking forward to seeing everyone. It has been 3 months since I last saw my girls and 8 months since I was in my own home !! I would like to thank everyone who I have worked with this past year there are too many of you to mention but everyone at Apollon Smrynis is a must a wonderful example of all that is good in football from fans to clubs officials.


Finally I really need to thank my wife Lucy 20 years and counting she has endured everything from my being away for months on end to looking after our three girlson her own, with all the problems that entails and well she is an absolute diamond thanks Babe………I also want to say a special thank you to my 3 lovely daughters Paula, Christiana, and Isabel who have also had to suffer with not having their Dad around to see them every day , to take them to school and all the mundane things that we take for granted. I am extremely proud to be their father and well enough said.


In closing I would really like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year ..............






By Stephen Constantine, Nov 19 2014 10:19AM


The National Stadium in FES
The National Stadium in FES

Morocco


Finally after 3 months we managed to secure a friendly international against the Moroccan CHAN team, which for those of you that don’t know is a team made up of players who are playing in their respective country. So any players playing outside of Morocco or Rwanda would be ineligible to play. This was a great idea from CAF which begun several years ago as a way of getting African locally based players a chance of international experience. In January 2016 Rwanda will host this 16 team competition and so pretty much everything we are doing is geared toward that event. Hopefully we can arrange a couple more games before Christmas and get the players back in to the swing of things in terms of what they do with me as I don’t get to see them too often. I am of course fully aware of the challenges to both the government and the FA re organising this event, it is a huge task and a great opportunity for football in Rwanda and we must make the most of this opportunity. As many of you are aware our qualification to the AFCON qualifiers was denied due to African politics in my opinion and nothing more, obviously I am bitterly disappointed by the ruling as it denied us 6 massive games and a great opportunity to build on our successful qualifying campaign. To date we have played 6 internationals with 4 wins 1 draw and 1 loss, quite a good return when you consider that in the previous two years we had won once in 17 games. I will say that the players have been magnificent for me and have really put themselves in the spotlight for all the right reasons.


Training in FES on the morning of the game
Training in FES on the morning of the game

Morocco, I was delighted when I was presented with the opportunity to play the Moroccan team for several reasons. One it was a game that we badly needed, two it was an opportunity for me to blood some new player, and thirdly playing against a very good Moroccan side would test us. One of the consequences of us being removed from the AFCONS was that the FA and the government decided not allow any players with dual nationality play for the national team, this removed about 5-6 players for possible selection four of which were starts for the national team. In essence I am having to rebuild the national team from scratch, this is a tough order as we do not have any real development process. Our national youth teams don’t get to play too much and we have no real youth leagues in the country, although we are in the process of setting up U17 U15 and U13 this will of course take time. Getting back to the national team I am not one of these coaches who look to play easy games as I really want to see the players under pressure. What can they do when their backs are up against the wall as I feel you find out a great deal more about them in those situations then playing a team you know you’re going to beat. I would like to thank the Moroccan FA and the people at DCI Sport and in particular Guillaume Ribero for making the game possible and for the help and assistance from start to finish. It was a long trip, with us leaving Kigali at 15:30 Wednesday afternoon flying to Doha via Entebbe Uganda. We then had a 3 hour stopover in Doha before heading out to Casablanca, arriving at about 8am on Thursday morning. Another two hour wait while our papers were processed by the Moroccan immigration officials before boarding the team bus that was to take us to FES about 170km from Casablanca. Four hours later we finally arrived at the Ramada Hotel in Fes, it had been a 20 hour trip with the plan being to train that evening at the main stadium in Fes. Given the condition the lads were in the plan changed! it went like this, eat sleep eat sleep train in the morning !! The grounds man was kind enough to allow us to train in the main stadium even though the game was to be played that evening and we managed to get some bits and pieces done.


The game itself was as I mentioned a good test for us and as expected the Moroccans came out looking to pass the ball around on what was a fantastic surface. Although Morocco had much of the possession they were not really hurting us and we were for the most part quite happy to let them have the ball. They did have one or two chances and our keeper made a couple of saves but nothing major and the first half ended 0-0. I made 3 substitutions for the second half in order to get some of the kids involved and we had agreed beforehand on the use of 6 subs. The new lads who were making their debut did well considering the travel, the opposition, and of course the nervousness you get before any game let alone your debut. I am optimistic that with time and more games we will continue to improve and within a couple of years we will have a good young squad that will be able to compete on all levels in Africa.


So until next time I wish you all the very best and thank you for visiting my site.








By Stephen Constantine, Nov 10 2014 03:45PM

With Kohundo Male Silver Back
With Kohundo Male Silver Back


One of the Young
One of the Young

After 7 months here in Rwanda I finally made the trek to see the beautiful Silver Back Gorillas, what a wonderful experience and something I will never forget. I had been planning to go since the day I arrived if I am honest and it was just a question of time when I would actually go. We have had a little bit of a quiet time due to us not playing games and when I suggested to Lee Johnson my youth team coach and TD here in Rwanda he jumped at the prospect of seeing the famous Silver Backs. The journey started with a 3 hour drive from Kigali and we stayed at the beautiful Gorilla Mountain View Lodge which is located at the foot of the volcanos it is absolutely beautiful as you will see in the pictures. There are several gorilla groups on the Rwanda side of the border and all the groups have names as do the individual gorillas themselves. It was a 5:30 wake up and we were on the way up the mountain by 7am after a brief meeting on the procedures and what we should expect on the way up. Luckily the weather was perfect and we did not have to deal with rain or scorching heat and a group of seven of us set off with the hope of seeing a Silver Back or two. It was really a great group the other five people were made of a couple from Denver Jim & Janice, and we had Tim, Tim Jr and Briana from Maryland. You never know on these treks who you are going to be joining but I must say I met some really great people and everyone was very supportive of each other and the banter was great. I must give a special mention to Janice who had been dreaming of this trek for 15 years after she had been given a picture of one of the male gorillas Kohundo by a friend, she not only made the trek at the age of 69 but she made it in style! Not holding anyone back and holding her own.


In the picture I am in awe of the male Silver Back Kohundo who at 43 years of age is the oldest male in the group, I can’t really explain the feeling to be honest to be that close to such a wonderful creature is amazing. The second picture is one of the babies. We got to spend an hour with the group of gorillas called the Sabyinyo in the Volcanoes National Park and it was as if we were part of them , as they played with their young, slept, and moved about not taking much notice of us and yet fully aware of our presence. It was in short a once in a life time experience.


On the football front there has not been too much to write about to be honest as we have had not games and no camps due to a variety of reasons none of them football related! It has been very frustrating at times and being someone who likes to work I have found it difficult. In fact apart from travelling around the country to help promote schools football I have recently delivered a couple of sessions to the coaches association in Rwanda and some youth organisations to try and keep myself busy. We have made missed a couple of opportunities to give our young team the invaluable experience of playing games. We honestly can’t afford to keep doing this as we prepare for the CHAN in January 2016 and must take full advantage of the FIFA calendar dates as well as any other opportunities that presents itself. As I write this I am pleased to say that we are going into camp as we have managed to secure a match against Morocco to be played in Marrakesh on the 14th of November and after a 2 day camp here in Rwanda we fly to Morocco on Wednesday and then face a very good Moroccan side on the Friday. Following that there was an international tournament called the CECAFA which was to be held in Ethiopia then Sudan and now it looks like its not happening at all. This is another blow for us as it would have given us 3-4 full international games and as I mentioned before playing time and games for our players. Hopefully we can come up with some fixtures as our next full international game is in March in an Olympic qualifier.


That’s all for now but will post something after we get back from Morocco……….




By Stephen Constantine, Oct 17 2014 05:59PM

Me and Lee on the Podium in Cario
Me and Lee on the Podium in Cario


Representing Africa's Nation Team Coaches in a panel discussion
Representing Africa's Nation Team Coaches in a panel discussion

Welcome to my new and very much improved website designed by Gary Graham, I must say has done a wonderful job and hope you all like it. www.madcoms.co.uk


Last week I was invited and attended the recent FIFA/CAF Conference in Cairo on the World Cup in Brazil, it was for all the National Team Coaches and the National Technical Directors. Alongside me in the photo above is Lee Johnson who has recently joined me in Rwanda as the TD and he will also run our Youth Development program. I must say his enthusiasm and work ethic is very good and he has already made a very positive impact.


The conference was a great chance for all of African football to get together and share problems as well as catch up with the latest findings on the recent World Cup. I was also pleased to meet so many old friends and met several new ones as well and really enjoyed the couple of days we had in Cairo.


Speaking about the National Coaches it was shocking to hear some of the problems that my colleges at the World Cup faced and had to deal with. Ghana’s problems off the pitch were well documented as were the Cameroons, it was mind boggling that the things we were hearing could be possible at that level. During one of the discussions I asked the panel a question, this was met with a round of applause half way through the question particularly by my fellow National Coaches. The question for me was quite logical and something I would really like to see at least at the National team level, “Why is it that coaches are required to be qualified, referees are required to be qualified yet the administrators of the world who make critical decisions that affect everything are the only ones who do not need to have been educated in their line of work” FIFA of course offer some administration courses but it is not a pass or fail type course and it is generally done over the course of 3-4 days really not enough time. Many people forget that the administration side of the game is vitally important to that of any National Team or club and really don’t give it the importance it deserves.


I was invited to be a member of a panel discussion where my particular topic centred around the “Difficulties of the National Coach in Africa” a huge topic and one that was met with a great deal of consternation by all of the coaches there. We went off into a group and we split off into Anglo phone and Franco phone to discuss what the problems were. We had an hour !! not nearly enough time to cover everything but there was a good comradery and we came up with several key points.

I have listed a couple of them,


1. Travel logistics, long waits at long hours due to poor connections and bookings.

2. The red tape when dealing with government offices in the release of funds.

3. Team bonuses and allowances.

4. Poor administration.

5. The lack of appropriate medical care


One of the vital points that I cannot stress enough is that of the number of people involved in deciding what happens at the National team level, by that I mean who should decide where the team stays, where they camp, and so on. The German National team who decide is made up of two people who handle the logistical side of things and then the National Coach. Sadly in Africa we have so many committees made up of people who mean well but are not at the sharp end of things. This can be a huge problem when you are trying to get things done, for me the German way as is the case in many countries the best way. Too many non-football people floating about the hotel, making footballing decisions is in my opinion a recipe for disaster.


On the pitch sadly there is not much if anything to talk about trying to arrange friendly games is proving very difficult for a variety of reasons and I am shall we say losing my mind not being on the pitch, one of the major drawbacks at the International level for me.


I really do miss the day to day interaction and the banter with the players quite a bit but then the pride I feel leading out any of the National teams is well at times overwhelming. Hopefully we can secure one or two games in the coming weeks and I can get back on the pitch.


Well I think that is enough for my first blog on the new site and really hope that you like what you see………………..


All the very best until next time



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