By Stephen Constantine, Jun 20 2017 10:50AM
We took another massive step in the right direction with a 1-0 win on the 13th of June after a very tough game against a very good Kyrgyzstan Republic team. Prior to that game we also won 2-0 in a friendly against Nepal which now means we have won 8 games in a row and 13 out of the last 15 games an incredible streak even if I do say so myself. Of course I am not getting carried away but it is really pleasing to see Indian football get some recognition after years of well not doing very well. Today we are top of Group A with 6 points from our first two games and we have 4 more games to go, I think we are going to need two more wins to be absolutely sure of booking our place in the finals and we still have a bit to do.
Our next 3 AFC qualifying games in 2017 are as follows,
September 5th Macau away
October 10th Macau home
November 14th Myanmar home
The last game of the group will be on March 27th 2018 in Kyrgyzstan.
Our future is in our hands and we must remain focused with feet firmly on the ground until it is mathematically done, then we can all go nuts for a bit !!!!
I am very proud of this group of players who have evolved over the last 3 years into a team that believes we can achieve something special, I remember saying that it will take some time before we are where I want us to be. Unfortunately, we had to learn on the job as it were and those 4 2-1 losses in the qualifiers against Oman, Guam, and Turkmenistan twice were all part of the process. The support from the AIFF has been a huge benefit, allowing me to do what I thought best for the team and giving me the resources to make things happen cannot and should not be underestimated. The fans in India have been well, what can I say I do not use the word immense too much but when I refer to the Indian fans I have no other words to describe them.
Of course we are still some way away from achieving our goal and there is work still to be done, our league issue must be resolved and quickly, I am of the opinion we need a parallel league at least for the next couple of years. We need to give the I league clubs the opportunity to adjust to the ways of the ISL as to be honest this is how football is going to be moving forward. Of paramount importance is that clubs recognize that football will stand still for no one, move with it or get out of the way. We need to have the two leagues running side by side so that more Indian players are playing, our National U19s and U17s will as many say surely be signed up by the clubs, but how many of them will actually see the pitch? how many of them will play 90 minutes’ week in week out and this is exactly what they need games! We must give these players a pathway to succeed and come in and take the places of the Sunils, the Eugeneson’s and others when their time has come to hang up their boots. In the meantime, lets enjoy this moment and remember how it makes us all feel because if we remember this feeling it will that much harder to give it up.
We are currently in a good place but let us not forget where were several years ago and remember if we do not continue to build and focus on the road ahead it does not take much to slip back into the past.
On a personal note I will be releasing my autobiography sometime in July, there are of course two chapters on Indian football. It was the idea of a certain Owen Amos who has been a friend of mine for several years. Thanks to him and of course the publishers, deCoubertin Books, it actually took Owen almost 3 years to find anyone to publish it so as you can see I seem to always have to do things the hard way. The book is due out in July and if anyone wants to pre order then please go to the link
I really hope it is a good read for you all.