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Constantine: Don’t expect miracles

New Delhi: India’s football coach Stephen Constantine said on Sunday that too much should not be expected from his wards at the Asian Games.

The coach and his young squad leave for England tonight to play two matches against Jamaica, placed 57th in the Fifa rankings, on August 29 and September 1.

Constantine and his boys recently surprised many by winning the LG Cup in Vietnam — a tournament featuring the lesser forces of Asian football. “Don’t expect miracles. It (Asian Games) is an extremely tough assignment and my aim is to win the first match and see what happens after that,” Constantine, who took charge in June, said.

“Our team has nine to ten players who are playing international soccer for the first time. And it is wrong to put too much pressure on them and harbour high hopes,” said the 39-year-old, who turned down an offer to coach Sudan before taking charge of India.

At the Asian Games, India have been placed in group c and begin against Bangladesh (Sept. 27) before taking on Turkmenistan (Sept. 30) and China (Oct. 3).

Constantine said it has been announced that China will field three World Cuppers. “Besides, these Chinese under-23 players have been together for the last four years.”

The new coach has so far been impressed by the Indians’ keenness to work hard. “They were coming from an off-season when I took over and we worked really hard to improve. “The idea was to work on the technical, tactical and the mental side and we have improved in all areas.”

The coach explained he wanted to pick one senior (over 23) player at each position since the rules permit just three. “The senior players form the spine of the team and I picked one for each position. If I could pick one more I would go for a goalkeeper.”

Bhaichung Bhutia, Joe Paul Ancheri and Debjit Ghosh form the senior trio.

On formations, Constantine said he would experiment with 3-5-2 and 5-4-1. “You can’t be rigid and have to change and adapt according to the situation.”

The coach felt Ancheri is in very good shape. “He’s probably at his peak,” Constantine said of the 28-year-old from Kerala. “He had been burdened by some clubs but we have an understanding whereby he’ll report his fitness to me.”

Constantine said he was yet to receive video tapes of India’s Asian Games opponents. An official of the AIFF’s marketing agent Strata said the tapes are on their way and will be handed over to the coach after the team returns from England.

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