New Delhi, Aug 7 (IANS) India football coach Stephen Constantine on Friday said the national team is at a huge disadvantage before facing Iran due to lack of competitive football owing to the conclusion of the country’s football season.
The 156th-ranked India play 41st positioned Iran in a 2018 World Cup qualifier match in Bengaluru on September 8. India have already lost the first two matches of its qualifying group and Constantine couldn’t offer any words of hope for the match against the Gulf country.
“It’s Iran, the 41st ranked team in the world, the giants of Asia. I feel that says it all. The international friendly against Nepal is the sole competitive match that our boys would have played before taking on the Asian superpowers,” Constantine was quoted as saying by aiff.com.
“You need to remember that prior to the match against Nepal, most of the national team players have not played a competitive game since June 2015 (against Guam) while the others have not played since May 31, 2015, i.e., the completion of the I-League. So for some players, its more than two months while for the rest, it’s almost or even more than three months. The national team is at a huge disadvantage.
India play against Nepal in a friendly match on August 31 in Pune as part their preparations for the qualifier against Iran. But Constantine conceded it is hardly enough, adding that the road ahead is tough as there is a huge difference between the standard of the country’s domestic league and international football.
“The road for us is as tough as I had expected it to be. There is a huge difference between the standard of the domestic leagues to international football,” he said.
“I have made many changes to the philosophy of the team to the type of training that we do including introducing many bright new prospects into the squad. But at the same time, they also need time to adjust to the pace and the level of International football.”
When asked about the reason for playing an international friendly against 184-ranked Nepal, the 52-year-old said, “There were options playing against higher ranked teams but seeing that we are playing a home game, we wanted to play at home while those teams wanted to play at their home. So it didn’t materialise. Under such circumstance, it’s good we played some close to our ranking.”