New Indian national team coach Stephen Constantine has declared there is no room for sentiment when his Blue Tigers take on his former side Nepal in the first round of 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying next month.
Constantine, 52, was last month appointed Indian coach for the second time after Dutchman Wim Koevermans departed at the end of last year.
“There is no room for sentiment in this game,” he told Football Channel Asia. “While I would have wished for both India and Nepal to progress that is sadly not going to happen and it is a question of you or me, and I would like it to be me that goes through.”
While his time in charge of Nepal was 15 years ago, he looks back on his time with the Gorkhalis with fond memories.
“It was my first national team in Nepal and I will always have a soft spot for them for giving me the opportunity to be the national coach,” he said.
“The fact the team did quite well in my time and I was presented with the honour form his majesty also showed how much they appreciated me as well.
“The Nepalese are a very hard working people and it was a pleasure to work with them, but my focus is with India and I will do everything I can to prepare to win the tie.”
The rivalry between the two nations, both on and off the pitch, is fierce and Constantine knows the Nepalese will be desperate to get one over their more fancied opponents.
“You’re playing the bigger nation, figuratively speaking, and you of course want to beat them,” the former Rwanda coach said. “It’s the same for India when they play a so called bigger football nation, they want to win and if that team is a neighbour that just adds to it.
“Getting one over on India is always a pleasure for many of the local countries. India is seen as the giant in many areas so when you beat them at anything it gives bragging rights and kudos to the team and country.”
London-born Constantine only started in his new role at the start of February, but has the added advantage of having coached the Indian national team before, even if it was 10 years ago, and he has promised that the team will improve under his watch.
“The Indian players are very hard working and are better then they think they are they just need someone to believe in them,” he said.
“I did then and I do now and we will rise up, that is a promise.”