Asian Cup Preview: 'We don't play to lose'

Updated: Jan 06, 2019, 08:26 IST | PTI | Abu Dhabi

Indian football team coach Stephen Constantine feels mentality of players has changed over the years; Thailand better watch out

Stephen Constantine with the Sunil Chhetri-led Blue Tigers during a training session. Pic/Indian Football Team's Twitter handle
Stephen Constantine with the Sunil Chhetri-led Blue Tigers during a training session. Pic/Indian Football Team's Twitter handle

The Indian football team set to compete in the Asian Cup has got rid of their old mindset of finishing as respectable losers since he took charge for the second time, feels head coach Stephen Constantine.

Addressing the pre-match press conference ahead of India's campaign opener against Thailand in the Asian Cup on Sunday, Constantine said his players would try their best to qualify for the knock-out rounds. "I think it is the mentality of the players," he said when asked what was the biggest change in the team since he took over in 2015.

Winning attitude
"When I arrived (in India) four years ago, it was like go and play the game and not lose by too many goals. That has changed over the four years. We are not going to a game thinking about losing. We go out there thinking we are going to win and that is the biggest change," said Constantine.

He said the workload of the players have also increased over the four years and the players have given "phenomenal" effort in training and in games. The Anglo-Cypriot, who was also India head coach in 2002-05 before a second stint in 2015, said his side's first target was to qualify for the Round of 16 from the group.

'No pressure on us'
"It is a big event but we have no pressure on us. We have a young side, I think ours is the second youngest side in this Asian Cup and youngest ever in the history of Indian football. The future is bright and we are going to try to qualify from the group. I can assure you that we will do everything on the pitch," the coach said.

Talking about the opening match against Thailand on Sunday, he said, "Thailand are a very technical side and they have got a number of good players. They are in top form, run around a lot and interchange very well. But we believe we are ready for them.

"Thailand will be as difficult as UAE or Bahrain. There are no easy games for us and we are taking one game at a time." Hosts UAE and Bahrain are the other teams in Group A.

Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who addressed the media along with the coach, said his side would look to produce a consistent performance in the tournament.

Aiming to be consistent
"We are concentrating on the challenge ahead and we have a team which has proved in the last four years that it can win. We are not an easy team to play against. We will try to be positive and stay consistent in the group stages."

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