The Mantra Has Always Been ‘Team first’: Constantine
National Coach Stephen Constantine hailed the character of the Indian side after that three away victories in three matches.
In the concluding part of his two-part interview, Constantine explains how significant was it to win the matches against Cambodia and Myanmar in front of a partisan crowd, the mantra in the squad, experience of adjusting to International Football, his stint in India so far and much more. EXCERPTS:
You now have six wins on the trot (including the unofficial match against Bhutan) out of which three have been away victories.
Six wins in a row speaks a lot. The mantra has always been: ‘Team first.’
Can you elaborate?
It is not about who dribbled or who headed or who scored or who passed. Football is not just about who is in the spotlight or is in the thick of action. Rather is all about the unit – right from the players to the medical staff to the media officer to the equipment manager. They are all part of this as much are all the people working back in Football House in Delhi. Credit goes to all of them.
I need to thank Mr. Praful Patel and Mr. Kushal Das for giving me the tools and trusting and allowing me to function the manner I want to.
The last two away victories were accomplished in front of a partisan crowd – 70000 in Phnom Penh and 20000 plus in Yangon.
It reflects the maturity in the team. Although we are a young side, we have been together for more than two years. We know what to expect and because we have introduced so many players in the last two years, they have all have the experience to adjust to the crowd, their hostility, the travel schedule, the hanging around in hotels, airports, buses, etc.
How does that help?
Unless you experience you can never adjust or do it. It’s not easy and it takes a particular kind of person to deal with it in a particular way. But unless you experience that, you never know how you are going to deal with it.
How do you describe your period in India so far?
When I took over in my second stint, I had said that there will be will good days and much there will be bad days. We needed time to establish our character and needed to change some of our habits to get the Team to play to a level that suits India.
What have you been successful in implementing so far?
So far, some of the results have not been pretty while some of the games have been quite good. We know what is expected and we have added a bit of consistency to the game. There is a fierce competition for places in the squad and no stays guaranteed. But the boys want to be there, and because they want to be there, they give all they have and the ones who are doing that are getting the calls.