The New Year 2017
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