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UEFA Pro License Holder and FIFA Instructor

Welcome to my Blog

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

By Stephen Constantine, Dec 10 2017 08:43PM

To everyone all over the world I hope 2018 is the year that you want it to be ………….as we close out on 2017 I have much to be thankful for.

It has been an amazing year as Indian National Team has for sure taken huge steps forward. Of course this is not possible without the tremendous effort of my players and back room staff, they have all been quite amazing as well. To have qualified for the Asian Cup with two games to spare was huge, but to still be unbeaten over 13 games spanning 2 years is well special.

Looking back on our recent results we are actually 18 games unbeaten out of our last 20 games. We have introduced some 36 new players into the national team and with a very decent group of U23s knocking on the door it has been a very productive couple of years. The league in India is continuing to improve and we will hopefully continue to get better.

What does 2018 have in store for us, well there it is going to be quite a busy program staring in March of course with our last AFC qualifier in Kyrgyzstan on the 27th, of course we go into that game already qualified but I can assure you we will not be taking it lightly. We have the Asian Games to consider and several other possible opportunities to play International fixtures as we prepare for the Asian Cup in January 2019.

But for the next few weeks I will be home with the family enjoying the quality time with them, lastly but by no means least my message to all our Indian fans thank you so much for your support it is of course Massive to see you all every game where ever we go and we really do appreciate it ………..Jai Hind

By Stephen Constantine, Oct 17 2017 11:08AM

We did it !!!!!!! qualifying for the Asian Cup in the UAE in January 2019 has become a reality and in doing so we have managed to beak a number of records and in my opinion become the best National Team India has ever had bar none. We beat Myanmar away after 64 years, we won an AFC qualifier away for the first time in 15 years, we won 4 games in a row away for the first time ever and 36 players have made their international debuts since March 2015 and we are 12 games unbeaten. We have managed to get to 96 in the FIFA rankings our best position in 20 odd years, it has been very tough but ultimately we have achieved our goal Asian Cup Finals.

I have to first start by saying that without the backroom staff this would not have been possible and they have all contributed in their own way to the success of this team. Of course the biggest credit must go to the players they have given me everything they had and more. When you put all of the above mentioned ingredients together and little bit of luck good things will happen.

It has as we all know been a very long road which started with us having to play Nepal in March 2015 in a home and away pre qualifier for the group stages, fortunately we managed to win the first leg at home 2-0 and drew 0-0 away enough to get us to the group stages. Oman, Iran, Turkmenistan and Guam respectively made up the group which also served as the qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup. Through the play offs we managed to get to the third and final group stage and 4 consecutive wins in the first four games saw us guarantee our place in the UAE in 2019 on October 11th 2017 a special day in Indian football.

Of course things have not been easy and when you are sitting at 175 in the rankings for sure there is a reason for that, over the last 3 years we have managed to do just that. Now with the Asian Cup to look forward India is where it needs to be among the best in Asia, but we still have a great deal to do to stay at that level. There are some fundamental things that we need to be doing in order get where we want, firstly the level of coaching must improve and secondly our coaches must focus on the development of the Indian player not through leagues or cups but through enjoyable games. We need players to be able to pass, to dribble to turn with the ball this is the only way forward, not trying to win a league at the U8s 9s and 10 years of age. There is enough time for this later, now we need players who understand the technical aspects of the game then once they have a good understanding of that you move to the next level. Ton Byer has been saying this for years’ manipulation of the ball at home with Mum or Dad using both feet are just somethings that can be done at home. It is imperative that we seize this opportunity that we have at the moment, the U17s World Cup the new format of the ISL and of course the National Teams success in qualifying for the Asian Cup are all catalysts. We have good stadiums now we have training facilities we must make the most of this in order to continue to develop.

On a personal note it has been a very tough but immensely satisfying few years and while I did not see us qualifying after 4 games I did feel with all the work the players, staff and of course the guys back at the AIFF in the Football House have done over the last few years we could qualify. There is one thing that I have not mentioned and I cannot close without mentioning the fans, we have had most of our home games in Bengaluru and of course the West Block Blues have been huge also the Mumbai lads are always there for us when we play in Mumbai and the crowd that turned up in Trivandrum for the SAFF was huge so to you all I thank you as does everyone at the AIFF players and staff alike playing for you in front of you is an honor…………………

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

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