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UEFA Pro License Holder and FIFA Instructor

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

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.

By Stephen Constantine, Mar 31 2017 11:30AM

Written by: AIFF-The All India Football Federation on the Khel Now website

Read to know the manager’s mindset and his insights after the team dual away victories over Cambodia and Myanmar. . .

Stephen Constantine is a happy man. The English coach is in his second stint as Indian National team manager and is making it count. Having defeated Cambodia 3-2 in an away friendly, Constantine made it one better with a sweet 1-0 victory in Myanmar in Asian Cup qualifiers, an away win in the country after 64 years.

Constantine has been thoroughly questioned on his choices and selection policy, but when the manager gets the desired results, there’s very little you can do as a critic. Aided by the ever-fighting Sunil Chhetri, Constantine said after the Myanmar game, “Myanmar had several chances to score, but we showed good spirit on the field today. We never gave up mentally and that aided us in our win. We had three to four chances in the match, but we could only take the one in the end. It was a very tight game and boys showed fantastic spirit to earn the win.”

Playing 12 versus 11 is difficult on the football pitch; ask a Galatasaray fan travelling to Fenerbahce. The Indian National team played its last two games in front of crowds to the tune of 70,000 and 20,000 and came out as victors, something which deserves a mention. Constantine laid out his views on the same.

“It reflects the maturity in the team. Although we are a young side, we have been together for more than two years. We know what to expect and because we have introduced so many players in the last two years, they have all have the experience to adjust to the crowd, their hostility, the travel schedule, the hanging around in hotels, airports, buses, etc. Unless you experience you can never adjust or do it. It’s not easy and it takes a particular kind of person to deal with it in a particular way. But unless you experience that, you never know how you are going to deal with it.”

Talking about his second stint, the former Rwanda manager said, “When I took over in my second stint, I had said that there will be will good days and much there will be bad days. We needed time to establish our character and needed to change some of our habits to get the Team to play to a level that suits India.”

Stephen takes a momentary pause and adds, “So far, some of the results have not been pretty while some of the games have been quite good. We know what is expected and we have added a bit of consistency to the game. There is a fierce competition for places in the squad and no stays guaranteed. But the boys want to be there, and because they want to be there, they give all they have and the ones who are doing that are getting the calls.”

The National Team has won its last six games on the trot, three of them away. The manager gives credit to the ‘Team First’ attitude and reflects, “It is not about who dribbled or who headed or who scored or who passed. Football is not just about who is in the spotlight or is in the thick of action. Rather is all about the unit – right from the players to the medical staff to the media officer to the equipment manager. They are all part of this as much are all the people working back in Football House in Delhi. Credit goes to all of them.”

Did the manager have a block about the Myanmar jinx which went back 64 years in history? “64 years is a long time -- a very long time indeed. I was told that Myanmar have always been India’s bogey team but I was never aware of this slice of history. The players were not born, nor was I.” Stephen continues with a smile, “I am happy that we have broken the Myanmar jinx which has plagued over the 64 years. I am also happy that we have got rid of the tag of ‘not being able to win away matches’ which we had for long.”

Stephen rightly suggests that this is one of the most important victories in recent Indian footballing history. He adds, “When you look at the game most people may think it’s not a major issue – Myanmar is not a powerhouse in Asian Football. But when you look at the significance and what it means to Indian football, this is perhaps one of the biggest wins in our recent history. When you look at from inside, it’s bigger than huge. We now need to build on this.”

Has he ever seen his team taking a game lightly and ending on the wrong foot? He names the loss against Guam and adds, “The result against them (Guam) is something which I will not forget for a number of reasons. The complete disrespect which most people showed for Guam affected the team. We were way too confident and casual in our approach and we cannot allow this to happen again. I will not allow myself and players to be complacent again and fall into the trap.”

His substitution to bring on Udanta on the right wing worked wonders as the youngster made a brilliant run to cross for Sunil Chhetri to slot home. Talking about that, Stephen said, “Any coach makes substitution to try and change the game and our substitutions were brilliant on the field today. They really did the work for us.”

The National team will face Lebanon in an International friendly on 07th June and take on Kyrgyz Republic at home after six days. What next in the store, manager? “This win (against Myanmar) does not matter much. We still have to take six points to be able to secure qualification to the final of the AFC Asian Cup 2019,” adds Constantine signing off, ““India can defeat anybody on their day, but the job is still far from done. We have to stay focused and concentrate on the next game.”

Published: Thu Mar 30, 2017 03:31 PM IST

By Stephen Constantine, Feb 2 2017 08:11AM

After a fantastic Christmas and New Year back at home with Lucy and the girls, it is time to get back to work.

A quick look back at 2016 saw our Indian National Team make significant steps forward both in the FIFA rankings and on the pitch. We started the new year ranked 129th our highest position for 10 years, and won 9 from the last 11 games. Of course, there is still much to do and perhaps more importantly than the above is the fact that we made it to the last group stages for the AFC Cup.

So many positives came from last year, and we are moving in the right direction, but we really need to kick on and make sure we are doing the right things both on the domestic front and internationally. The Hero I league is in full flow and will be trying to attend as many games as possible. Over the last two years, we have created competition for all positions and there are no guarantees for anyone. We are I feel in a position where we can qualify from this group and I will do everything in my power to make sure we do. The players the fans and all Indians need to get behind our national team and help us take the nest step we will all benefit one way or another and Indian in the Finals is the ultimate goal.

Last week the AFC Cup draw for the final group stages was made in Abu Dhabi and we came out of the pot in Group A with Kyrgyzstan Myanmar and Macau respectively which on paper I feel gives us a decent chance to make to the finals in the Emirates in 2019. As always, I go into these games knowing that we need to be at our best and of course prepare for some difficult games home and away.

As I start planning for the games this coming year, we have quite a full program and we will need to be very careful in our preparation both on and off the field. It is imperative that we play games and try and keep the team together so that we give ourselves the best possible chance to qualify for the finals. I have already started to plan the national team schedule and look forward to everyone pulling in the same direction.

I have also renewed my contract in India for another 14 months that would take me up to the end of March 2018 when we would be playing our last game away to Kyrgyzstan. Somewhere in between the AFC qualifiers, we also have the U 23 AFC Championship qualifiers and we will need to prepare for this as well as the senior team.

All the best and Jai Hind

By Stephen Constantine, Nov 22 2016 03:32PM

Report by Goal - confirmation to follow

...The former Rwanda coach is expected to sign on the dotted line which shall see him at the helm of the national team until February 2018…

Stephen Constantine has been offered an year’s extension by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Tuesday in a meeting held at the AIFF House, Delhi.

Kushal Das, the AIFF general secretary, met the English coach to discuss the terms and conditions and also listen to the concerns the 54-year-old had.

Stephen Constantine: Indian football now has a plan and that’s a good sign

“We have shared the terms with the coach and now he has to get back to us. It’s a one year contract which will be performance-based. There will be a review meeting held after six months though,” Das informed Goal.

Das also pointed that the target set was to qualify for the 2019 Asian Cup which will be held in Dubai. India have already made it into the group stages of the qualifications which are set to begin in March next year.

“The target set is to qualify for the Asian Cup. Stephen (Constantine) understands that but there are a couple of issues on which he will get back to us,” he mentioned.

There has been a suggestion to have an Indian assistant coach for the national team and Das suggested that former India captain Shanmugham Venkatesh could officially fill in that slot.

Stephen Constantine deserves more time

“Lee Johnson’s (India Under-19 and India assistant coach) contract ends in February and he won’t be staying with us. Stephen will look at a few Indian coaches but he could opt for Venkatesh, who serves as the team manager, to double up as an assistant coach,” Das expressed.

According to sources close to Goal, Constantine is expected to sign the extension later this week.

By Stephen Constantine, Oct 14 2016 07:27AM

As we approach the last set of Internationals for the year we are 137 in the FIFA ranking, an increase of 40 places!...from a 175 ranking two years ago I would say that it is a marked improvement. Our last game was September 3rd against Puerto Rico who were 38 places above us in the rankings at the time, an emphatic 4-1 win ended our international obligations for this year.

Our next scheduled game will be late March 2017 in the final group stages of the AFC Cup with the draw being held sometime in January. Hopefully we get a decent draw and can make it to the UAE where the finals will be played in 2019.

Looking back over the last 2 years it has been quite a ride and am really pleased with the way things have turned out. No, pleased doesn’t do it justice I am delighted and very proud of what we have done. I have to thank the AIFF for allowing me to do my thing and helping me achieve the goals we have. A special thank you to our National Team Manager Mrs Shantha Gopinath as well as all the support staff , starting with Venky, Lee Johnson, Danny Deigan, Ramos, Shankar, Gigy, the Doc Ali our masseur , Nilanjan Dutta our Media officer, Sanjay the kit manager and well everyone in logistics and at Football House Great job guys.

Looking at the results in qualifying one could say we didn’t do that well, but coming in our main objective was to make it to the final group stages, we did that. If we look a little deeper at things you will realize that quite a few things have been accomplished,

FIFA Rankings have improved from 175 – 137

Reduced the average age of the team from 30-24 We now have the nucleus of a team for the next 5-6 years

Have won 9 out of our last 11 games…. A first for India

Qualified for the Qualifiers for the first time in 8 years

Won an official AFC / WCQ away from home for the first time in 15 years

Gave International debuts to 30 new players expanding the pool of players

Promoted 3 U19s and 12 U23s players into the senior National Team

10 of those players coming from the AIFF Academy

Introduced the GPS system for the first time to the National Team which has been a huge benefit helping us keep the players fit, healthy, and on the pitch

Won the 2015/16 SAFF Championship beating Afghanistan 2-1 in extra time…………… JAI HIND

You may be wondering what I do in between games, well besides overseeing our Scouting Network which is being Directed by Abhishek Yadav who has done a brilliant job. I feel you appoint people who are going to make you better and he has done that, by setting up an International portal. The idea is young Indians holding a valid Indian passport can send in their footage and can be scouted. We have already had 3 lads train with our World Cup U17 national team as a result. It must also be said that we have introduced 27 young players into the AIFF academy in the last 2 years. I am also constantly watching games in both the domestic leagues here in India and keeping tabs on our current national team players but also seeing if there are any more players that could add value to the team.

I have been a FIFA Instructor since 2000 and working in a National Team environment gives me the opportunity to deliver courses around the world.

I honestly feel so privileged to be able to travel the world and teach coaches how to coach football, it really is such a rush. Being in a position to show other coaches around the world how to coach their players, see things you would never have dreamt of, and meet people from all walks of life. Put this together with my being able to coach at International level living the dream is the only thing I can say.

Generally depending on your availability you may get 1-2 courses in the year, but so far I have been to Mongolia, Ghana, Bhutan and am due to deliver a course in the N Korea in November.

With the Ghanaian Coaches at the National Training Center in Pram Pram
With the Ghanaian Coaches at the National Training Center in Pram Pram

In Ulaanbaatar in Monogolia
In Ulaanbaatar in Monogolia

Discussing the session in Bumthang Bhutan
Discussing the session in Bumthang Bhutan

I am really looking forward to going to the DPR Korea again, I had 3 days there back in 2004 when we played them in an Olympic qualifier with India. This time it will be on official FIFA duty and I will be delivering two separate courses, so hopefully will get to see a little more of the country.

As I write this I am actually getting ready to head home to see my wife and daughters and really am looking forward to getting home. Just to give you a little insight the last time I was in my own home in Cyprus was last April, and the last time I saw my wife and the girls was in the middle of July! So while I am living the dream there is huge sacrifice on both sides of the family and it doesn’t get any easier. This would be a good time to say thanks to the family for putting up with my being away more often than not.

Thanks girls can’t wait to see you all.

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