Constantine: Tie far from over

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Stephen Constantine

Despite holding a 2-0 lead after the first leg, Indian coach has stressed the tie against is far from over as the two teams now head to the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu for Tuesday’s deciding second leg.

Two second half goals from former captain swung the tie in ’s favour after Nepal had frustrated the Blue Tigers in the first half.

“The tie is far from over,” Constantine said after the game. “I am pleased as a coach. I told my boys to go, relax and enjoy the game. We did have our chances in the first half too.

“My intention is to build a team for the next five or six years. The last time I was here we tried to do the same and we will do the same even this time.”

Constantine surprised observers by naming seven debutants in the starting eleven, but he says there was method behind the supposed madness.

“When I put in players I put them in for a reason,” he told the assembled media after the game. “I put them in as they have something to offer. I never put them in for the sake of putting them in.”

One of those debutants was Bengaluru FC midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh.

“I need to thank the coach for the confidence he showed in me,” the 28-year-old said after the match. “I am getting to learn new things from him every day. We have gelled very fast as a unit.”

Constantine too was keen to emphasise the importance of the entire team.

“The players have surely worked hard,” the coach said. “But what some don’t understand in football is the amount of preparation which goes into a match.

“In football you don’t win by yourself, you win as a team. The backroom staff deserves every bit of the credit. Right from my assistant coach Venky (Venkatesh) to my physio Gigi George to team doctor Kiran (Kulkarni), everyone has made their contribution.”

Nepal coach Jack Stefanowski was proud of his players after the match and, like Constantine, declared the tie was far from over.

“We showed fighting character against India,” he said. “We will fight and try our best to overturn the deficit when they travel to our home.”