The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Sitting back on success just won’t do’

Calcutta: Subhas Bhowmick said a few days back that Indian football hasn’t gone too far because of its tendency to sit on the successes that have come far and few in between. Now he has found a backer in the national coach Stephen Constantine. Interacting with The Telegraph, the Indian coach, who is in Jamshedpur with the under-18 squad, said: “True, we have sat back on success and that is just not going to do.”

India won the LG Cup in Vietnam last year and failed to follow that up. The Indian U-18 team also did well to win the Welsh Cup last month, beating a Brazilian team in the final.

“Both the wins were very important. Similarly, East Bengal’s success in the ASEAN Cup in Jakarta has been a good step forward. But more Indian teams should go out and play on foreign conditions,” Constantine said.

The coach felt Bhaichung Bhutia’s decision to play in the Malaysian League is also a step in the right direction. “I think any player who gets the offer to play abroad, should take the opportunity with both hands,” the coach added.

Commenting on India’s success in the Welsh Cup, he said: “It has shown that our boys can compete in the international circuit.” However, he didn’t single out anyone for special mention. “They are all good and have come out in flying colours under trying circumstances.”

Talking of the forthcoming commitments of the Indian senior team, Constantine added: “We’ve the Afro-Asian Games coming up. If that falls through, we’ve some alternative plans in mind.”

The Union government has cleared the Afro-Asian Games and the camp for the Indian football team is likely to start in the first week of October.

Constantine sprang a surprise when he recalled I. M. Vijayan to the Indian team last year. Though the veteran striker hasn’t had too much match practice of late, the coach has shown faith in him. “Judging by the work rate in the SAFF Cup, he still has something to offer. I’ll use him whenever possible, until that changes drastically.”

Constantine, meanwhile, is in search of a psychologist for the Indian team. “I would like to have someone reliable. Players need someone who will always be there and then a trust relationship can be built.”

However, he did not endorse the view that the Indian team needed a trainer. “Indian teams under me have been renowned for their fitness and tenacity.

“The clubs should be doing more in that department so that when the players report they are in good shape, which is not the case at the moment,” he said.

The national coach came down hard when asked to comment on the conditions under which the Federation Cup was played. “I’ve heard it was played in horrible conditions and it’s amazing how there were no serious injuries,” he quipped.

“The Calcutta League is played under such conditions and it only got highlighted because it was the Federation Cup. It’s time people realised that we can’t afford to have our best players playing in those conditions.”

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