Indian Football

India looking to play Saudi Arabia, two other friendlies ahead of AFC Asian Cup, says Constantine

The head coach said the Intercontinental Cup gave the Indian team an opportunity to prepare themselves for the Asian Cup.

The Indian football team is looking to play two to three friendlies in the lead-up to the AFC Asian Cup in January, head coach Stephen Constantine said on Sunday.

“We will be looking to play [in December], about a week before our first game [in the AFC Asian Cup on January 6]. I can’t tell you the opponents but I am working on it,” he told reporters.

The Indian team is close to sealing an agreement with Saudi Arabia for a friendly, Constantine revealed. “[In] November we are close with an away game in Saudi [Arabia], but again this is not a 100%, but it is close. October we have one or two possibilities.”

The Indian team will play the South Asian Football Federation Cup in Bangladesh in September, where they have been clubbed with Sri Lanka and Maldives in Group B. Constantine, who pleaded with the authorities to let the team go to the Asian Games, thanked the Indian Olympic Association for agreeing to send the Under-23 squad to Jakarta and Palembang in August.

The Englishman also agreed that the team was under the cosh for large parts of the second half against Kenya in the final of the Intercontinental Cup on Sunday. “[In the] second half, Kenya put a lot of pressure on us. I really appreciate the work that the boys did and in the end we deserved this [title]. This is our success, just not me and the boys, but everybody.”

Asked which part of the 2-0 victory was more special, the Englishman said, “The work rate was phenomenal specially in the second half when we were tired and the Kenyans showed how tough they are because they played two days ago and were still able to put pressure on us.”

Constantine said the Intercontinental Cup gave the Indian team an opportunity to prepare themselves for the Asian Cup, which will be played in the UAE. “[If] we make it to the last 16 of the Asia Cup, these are the kind of games that we expect [to play]. The character and resilience of the team is what impressed me the most [in the final].”

The Englishman made light of the situation around the third match of the Intercontinental Cup, where Sunil Chhetri played despite India resting seven players. “I can’t protect him from club football, but I didn’t want to play him in the third game. But he starts moaning, so ok [I played him].”

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Do you really need to use that plastic straw?

The hazards of single-use plastic items, and what to use instead.

In June 2018, a distressed whale in Thailand made headlines around the world. After an autopsy it’s cause of death was determined to be more than 80 plastic bags it had ingested. The pictures caused great concern and brought into focus the urgency of the fight against single-use plastic. This term refers to use-and-throw plastic products that are designed for one-time use, such as takeaway spoons and forks, polythene bags styrofoam cups etc. In its report on single-use plastics, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has described how single-use plastics have a far-reaching impact in the environment.

Dense quantity of plastic litter means sights such as the distressed whale in Thailand aren’t uncommon. Plastic products have been found in the airways and stomachs of hundreds of marine and land species. Plastic bags, especially, confuse turtles who mistake them for jellyfish - their food. They can even exacerbate health crises, such as a malarial outbreak, by clogging sewers and creating ideal conditions for vector-borne diseases to thrive. In 1988, poor drainage made worse by plastic clogging contributed to the devastating Bangladesh floods in which two-thirds of the country was submerged.

Plastic litter can, moreover, cause physiological harm. Burning plastic waste for cooking fuel and in open air pits releases harmful gases in the air, contributing to poor air quality especially in poorer countries where these practices are common. But plastic needn’t even be burned to cause physiological harm. The toxic chemical additives in the manufacturing process of plastics remain in animal tissue, which is then consumed by humans. These highly toxic and carcinogenic substances (benzene, styrene etc.) can cause damage to nervous systems, lungs and reproductive organs.

The European Commission recently released a list of top 10 single-use plastic items that it plans to ban in the near future. These items are ubiquitous as trash across the world’s beaches, even the pristine, seemingly untouched ones. Some of them, such as styrofoam cups, take up to a 1,000 years to photodegrade (the breakdown of substances by exposure to UV and infrared rays from sunlight), disintegrating into microplastics, another health hazard.

More than 60 countries have introduced levies and bans to discourage the use of single-use plastics. Morocco and Rwanda have emerged as inspiring success stories of such policies. Rwanda, in fact, is now among the cleanest countries on Earth. In India, Maharashtra became the 18th state to effect a ban on disposable plastic items in March 2018. Now India plans to replicate the decision on a national level, aiming to eliminate single-use plastics entirely by 2022. While government efforts are important to encourage industries to redesign their production methods, individuals too can take steps to minimise their consumption, and littering, of single-use plastics. Most of these actions are low on effort, but can cause a significant reduction in plastic waste in the environment, if the return of Olive Ridley turtles to a Mumbai beach are anything to go by.

To know more about the single-use plastics problem, visit Planet or Plastic portal, National Geographic’s multi-year effort to raise awareness about the global plastic trash crisis. From microplastics in cosmetics to haunting art on plastic pollution, Planet or Plastic is a comprehensive resource on the problem. You can take the pledge to reduce your use of single-use plastics, here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of National Geographic, and not by the Scroll editorial team.