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STEPHEN CONSTANTINE 

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INDIA NATIONAL TEAM HEAD COACH

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, May 26 2015 11:21AM

In less than a month the World Cup /Asian Cup qualifiers begin and our quest for glory with a home game against a very good Oman side on June the 11th which also coincides with my 20th wedding anniversary !! I will of course be fully focused on the job at hand and my wife Lucy can expect the usual number of Roses, 20 in this case . It will be a very difficult game but we have a group of young players who want to do well and I am optimistic we can get our campaign off to a good start. Of course with Oman, Iran, Turkmenistan, and Guam there will be no easy games for us and we will need to be at our best in all the games if we want to get anything at all. My schedule has been very hectic these last few months and I have spent more time in the air then on the ground given the number of flights I have been on. I now have a much better idea of what we have in terms of ability and of course a clearer picture of what we need to do going forward.



Robin Singh in action against Nepal
Robin Singh in action against Nepal

There will of course be some faces in the coming games and they will need time to get used to the pace and quality that is International football, but I can assure you no matter what happens we will fight to the death and we will not stop pressing, pushing and trying to make things as difficult as we can for any team we face. We are entering a new phase in India and we must take advantage of this wave of interest in the beautiful game here and look to build on things. Our U17 National Team have recently appointed Nicolai Adam who like me is someone who does not like to lose and will work hard to help the players, then we have Lee Johnson who I have brought over with me from Rwanda and he too is another coach who will demand and get the best out of the U19 players. So the thought of those U17 /U19 players getting quality coaching over the next few years have a wonderful opportunity to make their mark not only in India but abroad as well.


I have also set up a Scouting Network that I hope will aid in the quest to find more players for all the age groups and at the very least we can expand our pool of young players. To help me do this I have appointed Abhishek Yadav as the Director of National Scouts who will oversee the operation for me and Lee Johnson will act as the Technical Scout with Regional Scouts in each State. Abhishek has offered to do this free of cost in order to help us and the AIFF with regard to costs and this is also a very commendable act and much appreciated. Obviously the Regional Scouts will get a basic salary and bonuses if and when they deliver the goods! It is an ambitious project and it will not work over night a lot of work has to be done and it will be, but again we need time to get things up and running the way I want and in every corner of this great land. We will start with a handful of States to see how it goes and then take it from there, within 3 years I would like every State in the country to be covered by one of our Regional Scouts and every player that dreams of playing should get the opportunity. In July we will also recruit an old friend of mine called Derek Bragg who is a top class professional scout, he will come to India for a few days and pass on his knowledge in how to scout. All of our Regional Scouts will attend the workshop and will benefit greatly from this and really help them to understand what to look for in terms of the type of player we are looking for.

Players will report on the 3rd of June and all being well camp starts on the 4th as build up to the game on the 11th. It will be a big test for as I have said before and am really looking forward to it , the game will be in Bangalore and hopefully the Blue Fans of Bangalore will be there in numbers to support the team.

All the best

By stephencon, Apr 15 2015 03:19PM

The Groups for 2018 FIFA Wolrd Cup Asia
The Groups for 2018 FIFA Wolrd Cup Asia

Yesterday afternoon in Malaysia the draw for the 2018 World Cup in Russia took place as well as the first stage of the 2019 Asian Cup in the UAE. Sitting at home in Cyprus I waited to see the draw live and online and was joined by my wife and the 3 girls. Waiting for your team to be drawn is almost as exciting as seeing the other teams drawn in your group and well am really looking forward to the challenge.


Starting with team Meli Iran what can you say about this team they are one of the giants of Asian football consistent and full of quality all over the pitch. I have had the pleasure of going to Iran several times; the warmth of the people is what strikes you the most although I don’t think we will see this at the Azadi stadium !!


Oman is for me another quality team and on there day they can and have beaten most teams; we open the qualifiers on June the 11th against them in India. My 20th Anniversary is also on June the 11th and both me and Lucy know where I will be! We may have to bring the anniversary forward or hold off until after the game!! Oman will be another difficult game as all the games will be for us but like everything else in life if you do what you need to do and do it right then anything can happen.


Guam although lower down in the ranking for me are one of the most improved teams and are managed by Gary White another Englishman and a friend. They will be organized disciplined and will not be an easy game home or away they have a good young manager who has been there for the last two years and they will be ready to play that’s for sure.


Turkmenistan is another one of those teams where you don’t hear too much about what is going on there but have a tradition of producing players and will be another team who on their day will cause teams problems.


At the end of the day though it really is all about us and what we do, we have as I have said before not done ourselves any favors these past few years and this year we had to qualify for the qualifiers. Looking forward I am really pleased that the AIFF is allowing me to change a few things and I am sure that in the coming weeks and months we will start to see the benefits. Of course there is a great need for everyone to pull in the same direction and so far so good. We of course need the support from the fans and really need to create an electric atmosphere at our home games so get ready folks the Blue Tigers are coming to play and may the long journey to Russia continue ………..


        The road to Russia began last month ......
The road to Russia began last month ......











By Stephen Constantine, Mar 23 2015 11:15AM

2007 was the last time India made it to the group stages of the World Cup Qualifiers and the Blue Tigers are back !!!


The message before training session begins
The message before training session begins

2007 was the last time India made it to the group stages of the World Cup Qualifiers and the Blue Tigers are back !!! After 8 years in the wilderness India can at least dream of the World Cup. How or why has it come to this is in the past what we do going forward is my main concern. The draw for the 12 worst teams in Asian was made and we were drawn against of all teams Nepal my old team. A home and away tie with the 1st leg in India. Guwahati was chosen as the venue for our home game and we began training in earnest on the 5th of March. I had a training camp of 5-6 days to prepare before the game not really long enough especially as I was working with the players for the first time. A list of 50 players were registered by the AIFF and along with my Assistant Coach Venky we reduced the list to 26 who then reported to camp in Guwahati.

Joining the team were Danny Deigan my Sports Science Coach and Ramos my Goalkeeping Coach we got, I must also mention the great job done by the entire backroom staff . Right from my Assistant Coach Venky (Venkatesh) to my physio Gigi George to Team Doctor Kiran (Kulkarni), equipment Manager Sanjay (Dhyani), Masseur Liaqat (Ali), Team Manager Srinivas, and Video Analyst Shanka everyone has made a contribution. Obviously the players need time to adjust to me and me to them but am delighted by the response from them and also from the staff there was a great atmosphere and I really enjoyed working with the players.



First leg: The starting 11 against Nepal
First leg: The starting 11 against Nepal

Going into the first game there was a great deal of pressure on the players and everyone connected with Indian football as if were to slip up and not qualify that would mean no competitive football for at least 2 years!! The 1st leg itself was one of initial hesitation and a question of the players getting to know the system and although we were in control for most of the 1st half we were not too convincing. We missed several chances early on but going into half time it was 0-0. At half time I just told the lads to relax and not to worry about the goal and that it would come, and it did Twice! Two strikes from Sunil Chetrri was enough to win the game after some great work from the team as a whole. Both goals were a result of determination and the pressure we put on Nepal in fact one of the goals was from a Nepal free kick outside our 18 yard box.Unfortunately we missed a penalty which would have made it 3-0 and given us that much more breathing space for the away leg. A recovery session was in order the day after the game which consisted of some light work for the starters followed by ice baths and then a flight to Nepal the following morning.


The second leg could not have been more different and it was as I expected with Nepal putting as much pressure as they could. The pitch was terrible as was the training ground we had used the day before the game and though I am not using that as an excuse it really was a very bad surface. We were under pressure for long periods of the game and were very fortunate that we did not concede anything early on. We had one or two opportunities ourselves and did enough overall to win the tie. As the game went on Nepal started to feel the pressure alot than us as they needed to score two goals to send it to extra time. After some difficult moments the sound of the referees whistle came giving us the qualification to the group stages and the opportunity to build for the future.There is a great deal to do before the first games in June but I know where I would rather be at this point in time. So a 2-0 win at home was enough to see us through and as we await the draw for the group stages we also wait to see how far we have moved up the FIFA rankings finally getting out of the worst ranking in our history.

I would also like to add a very important point, as I try to re build the team I had called up 11 new players to the squad 8 of whom made their international debuts and am very pleased with that. The message is play well for your clubs and you will get a chance, so I am sure there will be some more new faces as we go into the qualifiers.


Sunil Chetrri celebartes the opening goal. Robin Singh battling away
Sunil Chetrri celebartes the opening goal. Robin Singh battling away

Recovery session
Recovery session

It has been a very hectic time for me since arriving in India and after 2 months still have not had the time to look for a place to stay! Having said that I am loving every minute of it and really appreciate all the support I have been given by the AIFF and everyone in India.I have been travelling the very long length and breadth of the country looking at players, facilities as well as a host of other things. I am also trying to set up a scouting network that will cover all of India, and not just look at National tournaments as we are doing in the past. As you can imagine this is not an easy task but one I am determined to do in order for us to find more players. A work in progress that is for sure but taking the first step to do that is important and we have done that. In closing a special than you to all the Indian fans who are getting behind the National Team, together we can do great things.

……… Jai Hind




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By stephencon, Feb 12 2015 01:45PM

GETTING STARTED..


What a couple of weeks it has been since arriving in India, I arrived on the 31st of January at 9am had a quick shower and change of clothes before heading down on another flight to Goa. Met several old friends and before heading off to see Salgaocar Vs Sporting Goa which resulted in a 2-0 win for Salgaocar. I then met several of the coaches in the I League and spent the next day looking at the training facilities in Goa. Our U 23 who are going to be playing Olympic qualifiers will train there and our senior team will train in Guwahati as we prepare for the first leg against Nepal on the 12 of March. The U 23s will be under the guidance of Savio Mederia as the senior camp will going on at the same time. They face Uzbekistan, Syria and Bangladesh in Bangladesh on the 27,29 and 31st of March so a really busy time.

Ten years on and there are a lot of changes re organisation, staff and in general things have improved which is great to see. The problem that we still have is the number of games our players are having to play. I know some will say they play 60 odd games in Europe and yes that can be the case however the training facilities, the playing fields, and the overall health care for the players is on another level and we must take this into consideration going forward.

The first game cannot come soon enough for me and I am really looking forward to seeing the players and getting down to training, I am as enthusiastic now as I was when I took over the first time in India and looking forward to doing well. There is a great deal to do however and although a lot of things have been put in place there is always something more you can to push things along.

Nepal will not be an easy game home or away and we are not in a position to show anything but respect for our neighbours, and having coached them for two years I know the mentality we will have to be at our best to beat them.

As I write this I find myself my in England need to get my employment visa and a new passport, passport secured now it is a matter of waiting to get visa and then back to India and down to work.

I want to thank the AIFF for having the faith in me and brining me back to India in what I hope to be exciting to be exciting times ahead for us all……



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


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