There is still time to gear up for the AFC Asian Cup next year, but India coach Stephen Constantine isn’t happy about the lack of time his team have got to prepare for the important clash against China on Saturday. He said that while they were ready for the game against China, there is little time for “what they want to do”.
“Of course, it is a problem not having enough time. We don’t have much time to do what we need to do, we needed a few more days. Going forward, we need to have more time and three, four days are not enough,” Constantine said in New Delhi.
“The boys who played on October 7 arrived on the next day around mid day. They cannot train on the same day and there is a chance of injuries. When we get the players from the club, atleast two days are needed to recover before we start putting them in training. But we don’t have time so it’s difficult,” he added.
Preparation time is not the only thing Constantine will be grappling before the China game in Suzhou this weekend. Striker Balwant Singh was dropped from the squad as his passport’s validity period is less than six months.
“His passport is not valid for six months. It’s five months and some weeks. It’s frustrating because he has done well in the last 18 months with me and he is a player we value much. He would have good game time,” he explained.
Despite the absence of Balwant, he was optimistic that India will fight it hard in the game and whatever the result the team will only try to play for the win.
“I put a lot of importance on these games. This is a friendly but that is just for the world. These boys are going to play for the Asian Cup. We are not going there to lose. We will try to win and it is difficult but our objective is always to win. If we don’t win, we will try to the positives out of the game,” he said.
The players understand the importance of the game equally and they are preparing to get the best result. Defender Pritam Kotal also understands that and the importance of defence against China.
“This is a very important game before a big tournament and this match will tell us where we need to improve. We have prepared well for this. The defenders have a lot of responsibility and during practice we are talking about keeping a clean sheet,” Kotal said.
But that will be a tough ask for the team as China have shown improvement under coach Marcello Lippi. In 2018, they have played six matches, winning two, losing three and drawing one. The last game they played was against Bahrain which was a 0-0 draw.
“China are a good side and play possession football but they also like to press hard. These are the games we need to play under pressure. This game will be an indication of where we are, how far we need to go. It’s a friendly game but we will go all out,” Constantine said.
So far, India are yet to win an international game against China. In the 18 previous encounters, China have won 13 and have drawn the remaining matches. But Kotal said that Constantine have given them a brief of their opposition.
“We have not seen any videos but we will watch some before the game. We have an idea of the team as coach told us. He explained which is their stronger side and which is weak. We still have a couple of days and we can improve on our preparation.” he said.
Constantine, however, talks about the reality. He knows that China will a tough game and that’s the only way to improve the Indian team.
“I want to us to be fully aware of what we are going to face in the Asian Cup. China are a top time in the region and it’s going to be very tough. Those are the games we will find how good we are”.