The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Constantine wants to revamp India under-17 side

New Delhi, Dec. 6: National coach Stephen Constantine is in Delhi to witness the ongoing Subroto Mukherjee Cup and pick talented youngsters for the India U-17 team, which qualified for the final round of the AFC championship in Japan. Constantine said that since the final round is in September 2004, he has time to revamp the squad, which qualified yesterday in Calcutta.

Constantine intends to hold camps in Goa and Kerala. The 20-member squad, which played in Calcutta, plus probables chosen from the Subroto Mukerjee Cup will attend these training camps.

Consantine will witness the four quarter finals on December 8 and 9. After seeing today’s matches he was impressed by SAI Calcutta’s central midfielder Anthony Soren, who hails from Midnapore and goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharjee. Constantine said that Arindam has the height and ability to develop into a classy goalkeeper. The national coach wants both these players in the next training camp for the U-17 probables.

Commenting on India’s 2006 World Cup draw, Constantine said, “it is a tough group, but I do not want my players to be afraid of Japan.”

He said he would request the AIFF to have a break in the National Football League (NFL) after the conclusion of the 11th round on January 22. Constantine wants a minimum three-week training camp and a foreign tour as part of his World Cup qualifying round preparations.

Constantine also stressed he would insist the AIFF agree on playing their group 3 matches on a home and away basis. He had heard offers were being made to play the qualifiers in Japan and Oman but he would resist it. If the home-away format was agreed to, India’s matches could be played in Calcutta or Bangalore and would commence in February 2004 and stretch till November 2004.

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