Afghanistan favourites for SAFF Cup final: Stephen Constantine

Thiruvananthapuram: India coach Stephen Constantine feels that Afghanistan will be the favourites when the teams meet in the SAFF Championship final here on Sunday.

India coach Stephen Constantine
India coach Stephen Constantine 

Afghanistan have been one of the most impressive teams in the tournament, thrashing Sri Lanka 5-0 in the semi-final. A major reason for their high standards is the fact that of the 20 players in the Afghan squad, 15 ply their trade in foreign countries, mostly in Denmark, Germany, US, Bahrain and Malaysia.

Pointing this put at the pre-match press conference here on Saturday, Constantine opined that the hosts will have to be at their best in Sunday'' showdown. "Afghanistan are the favourites because they have 15 players who play mostly in Europe. There is a huge gap between Asian and European players," the India coach said.

"In fact, after the match against Guam almost all had raised eyebrows saying how we lost to a country who has a population of 90,000 people. But what all didn't realise is that it was a team of US-based players," Constantine added. The British coach also warned that India's defenders will have to be at the top of their game in order to keep the in-form Afghan strikers at bay.

"It's hard to predict as to which area the match would be decided. It will be decided on all parts of the field. It is going to be a very difficult game. They are a team who can score goals and we need to be careful," he analysed.

Referring to India losing the momentum, in the second half of their semi-final against Maldives, Constantine said, "In football, when you are in control of the game, you tend to become a bit sloppy. That's what happened in the semi-final. And of that happens in the final, we'll have to pay a heavy price for it."

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