Abu Dhabi: Indian coach Stephen Constantine was at his wittiest best and kept the cards close to his chest ahead of their toughest Group A Asian Cup match against hosts UAE on Thursday.
The Briton went on to the extent of saying: “I wouldn’t want to let out anything as there might be people from the UAE camp here listening.”
Constantine’s secretive stance is understandable given the fact that his side is at the cusp of making history — One more win and a country with over a billion population would rejoice something that they had dreamt for ages.
“I hope we lead the group after three games. At the moment it is nice to be there but we have two very difficult games ahead of us. The host nation tomorrow will be a tough game but we came here to qualify and we will give everything to do that,” said Constantine on the eve of the encounter.
With UAE having settled for a draw against Bahrain, Constantine acknowledged that they would came hard on India. “Yes, certainly they will as they didn’t play that well against Bahrain. They are a good side and I think they will be pumped up to play against us for sure. They will see this as a must-win situation for them. We will try to play our game and see if we can get something from it,” said Constantine.
“I don’t want to mention any particular names of the players whom were are looking to target from the UAE camp. I wouldn’t be mentioning any names even if I had the names in my mind. We are prepared for all 14 of them including the three substitutes, in case they are needed. We are as prepared as we can before this game,” revealed Constantine.
“I’m not going to tip my hand here. I do not want to talk about what other teams did or didn’t do. Obviously, it is for us to know. I think we have a healthy respect for them. We are not going in for anything less than a win,” declared the Briton, whose team has, in the 13 previous meetings against UAE, lost eight and registered only two wins. The last time the two teams met was at the Fifa World Cup qualification in 2011 and the match had ended in a 2-2 draw.
“When we started, there were zero expectations. It is fantastic that we have given so many people hope that India can finally be among the league and not by chance but because they deserve to be there. I want everyone to believe that we can be there,” said Constantine.
Indian team’s right back Pritam Kotal revealed that confidence in the team is sky-high following the win against Thailand and everyone is raring to go against the UAE.
“The Thailand win was a moralebooster and the atmosphere in the team is good. We now just want to qualify from the group. We have done our preparations as per the coach’s advice,” said Kotal.