Why O’ Why? Five Names That Defy Constantine's Own Selection Criteria
Stephen Constantine is getting his team set and ready for the all important AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers. India face Myanmar in the opener and to set the tone, Constantine has gone with Mumbai as the venue for preparations with the city offering closes weather conditions to the hot and humid Yangon.
On his team selection, the Englishman reflected: “We have recruited players on basis of their consistent performances both from the Hero I-League and the Hero Indian Super League. "I reiterate that the door is open for anyone who is eligible to play for India. But for that he must be prepared to do the work we need. We have selected the players from what we have seen over the last few months.”
But digging in deeper and assessing the recent performances, here are the 5 names that Constantine should have given a miss.
One of the strangest names on the list, Fulganco Cardozo’s name doesn’t resonate with Constantine’s claims of selecting people of recent performances in the ISL and the I-League. While Cardozo could manage just 5 games in the ISL for a struggling FC Goa side, the 29-year old has managed just 344 minutes for Churchill Brothers in the I-League.
To make matters worse, he has conceded a penalty as well in one of those games and has been poor defensively. Talking about adding value going forward, the Goan has made three passes in the offside position, one of the highest for any player in the league.
With the emerging names in the position in the form of Sena Ralte, Lalruatthara, and Souvik Chakraborty who also adds versatility, this is one name Constantine should have omitted from the side.
Nishu getting a nod ahead of his teammate Sena Ralte who has been a stellar performer for some time now is a huge surprise.
Though Nishu played at the left-back last season for Bengaluru FC and did fairly reasonably, Nishu wasn’t a part of any ISL side and has managed to accumulate just 158 minutes in the I-League thus far.
So with him not being a player who has recently done well having not played much, he is another contradictory name to the selection policy.
In the couple of games he has featured this season in the I-League, he has done a decent job for his side but him getting a favour ahead of better performers and naturally left footed left-backs comes as a big surprise.
The 21-year-old Indian forward has enjoyed a good period in Indian football having recently broken into the Indian squad and bagging an ISL contract this time around. Passi who was a part of the NorthEast United FC side managed just 4 games for the Highlanders and had just a solitary shot on target in those.
Despite coming on the back of a fairly poor ISL, DSK showed faith in the youngster and snapped the tall and lanky forward from Sporting Clube de Goa.
Coach Dave Rodgers tried to put some belief in the youngsters but the former Sporting man failed to deliver. In the 5 games he featured for DSK Shivajians this term, he could only manage 304 minutes, not completing 90 minutes in even a single game.
Passi has no goals or assists to show for himself and couldn’t even manage a shot on target in the games he has played thus far.
Clearly, the stats don’t point in the direction of a good selection nor any of his attributes that the other strikers cannot bring in.
Doing himself a huge favour, Mohammed Rafique scored the league winning goal in the opening season of the ISL for Atletico de Kolkata. The journey thereon hasn’t been as gloomy.
Rafique wasn’t as great for the Kerala Blasters and while his namesake Rafi did a decent enough job, Rafique couldn’t manage to get on the scoresheet though he provided a solitary assist in the campaign.
Rafique has featured in just 2 games for the Red and Gold with one being off the bench owing to an injury. With just 123 minutes of play to his name, Rafique hasn’t done enough this season to warrant a place into the probables.
Having recently come out of a horrific injury that forced him out of football for a while, Anthony D’Souza couldn’t find a space in any of the ISL sides and had to be content playing for Dempo in the Goa Pro League. Though Anthony did a fair job on the left side of midfield, the Dempo side couldn’t get to the title despite a star studded side.
After gathering initial interest from a couple of I-League clubs, D’Souza finally landed at Churchill Brothers. With other players raising the bar, D’Souza hasn’t got regular starts for Churchill and has managed to spend just 176 minutes on the pitch.
While the teeth evidently were lacking in his attacking display, D’Souza could just get a single shot towards the goal and that too off target. Known for sending in some wonderfully looped corners, the 29-year-old hasn’t been able to offer much and comes in as an unexpected name on the list.
With the likes of Rane, Lewis and Dika waiting in the wings who have done considerably well, it makes for an unfair and an unjustifiable call.