Con­stan­tine up­beat about In­dia’s chances

The Hitavada - - SPORTS -

THE odds are stacked against In­dia but a con­fi­dent head coach Stephen Con­stan­tine says his play­ers have it in them to qual­ify for the next round of the AFC Asian Cup by beat­ing Bahrain, here on Mon­day.

The Group A is cur­rently bal­anced on a knife’s edge, with all four teams still stand­ing a chance to qual­ify for the Round of 16.

While hosts UAE lead the pro­ceed­ings with four points from two games, In­dia and Thai­land are close be­hind with three points each. The ‘Blue Tigers’ are ahead of the ‘War Ele­phants’ by virtue of a bet­ter head-to-head record, while Bahrain lies bot­tom with one point. A win for In­dia will be enough to directly seal a berth in the next round, al­though, with four best third placed teams from the six groups also ad­vanc­ing to the Round of 16, a draw will also see In­dia through.

So far, In­dia and Bahrain have faced each other seven times. While Bahrain have won five times, In­dia have just man­aged a soli­tary win, with the other match end­ing in a draw. In fact, the last time that the two teams squared off was in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar where In­dia lost 2-5. Con­stan­tine says his side can script his­tory.

“I have said it be­fore that we can qual­ify from this group. That is our ob­jec­tive right now,” said Con­stan­tine on the eve of the match.

“I don’t be­lieve in records. There are a lot of fac­tors that come into play. When was the last time we played them? Was it the same team? What were the cir­cum­stances? Ev­ery­thing’s al­ways chang­ing,” said Con­stan­tine.

“If we win, we don’t have to worry about any­one else. So we’ll fo­cus on our­selves and see what hap­pens from there. It’s an im­por­tant game for us. Ob­vi­ously, we want to do well and get the three points.

“I’m not sure whether we can call it ‘do-or-die’. That’s a bit too dra­matic, I think,” Con­stan­tine said. The In­dia coach had words of praise for the op­po­nents.

“They de­fend very well and are very well or­gan­ised. I’m sure that it will be dif­fi­cult. But we have shown that we can score against good teams. I’m sure we can score to­mor­row as well,” he said.

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