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Couldn’t understand the hype around the U-17 team, says India coach Stephen Constantine

Stephen Constantine said the hype surrounding the India U17 team and squad that played in the FIFA U-17 World Cup was unfounded.

Written by Rohit Mundayur | Updated: July 30, 2018 9:41:54 am
Stephen Constantine, Stephen Constantine India, Stephen Constantine coach, Stephen Constantine India coach, FIFA U17 World Cup, sports news, football, Indian Express Constantine also said that not sending an Indian football team to the 2018 Asian Games to be held in Indonesia based on previous results was an “appalling decision.”(Source: File Photo)

Stephen Constantine said on Sunday that the hype surrounding the Indian team who played in the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup was unfounded. “They didn’t win any games in the world cup. I’m not quite sure what the hype was about,” he said.

The 17th edition of the tournament was held between October 6 and October 28 across six Indian cities. Being the hosts, India gained automatic qualification and were placed in Group A along with the USA, Ghana and Colombia. The team, who were led by Portuguese Luis Norton de Matos, lost all their group games and scored one goal.

“I never saw why we were making such a big deal of the U-17 team. They didn’t qualify for the World Cup, they hosted it. Then they played in the I-League (as the Indian Arrows) and came last,” said Constantine in an interaction with the media on the sidelines of a preparatory camp ahead of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship.

READ: Would like to see more Indian players getting match time in ISL, says coach Stephen Constantine

The camp includes four players from that under-17 team – Rahul KP, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Rahim Ali and goalkeeper Prabhshukhan Singh Gill. The four players are currently in Spain with the India U-20 side playing the COTIF Cup, and will join the camp later.

Constantine also said that not sending an Indian football team to the 2018 Asian Games to be held in Indonesia based on previous results was an “appalling decision.” “The Asian Games is held every four years; we are not the team we were four or eight years ago. I think that it did us harm because felt that we had a good opportunity to qualify from the group stage.” Constantine said that the players have been robbed the chance of playing more “big games”.

He said that the Under 23 squad’s scheduled trip to Australia remains on track despite the inability to travel to Jakarta. “It didn’t make sense that we cancel that as we were going to use the team for the SAFF,” said Constantine.

Constantine clarifies stance

Hours following the press conference in the capital, Constantine tweeted a clarification on the comments made on the U-17 team and their progress. He wrote, “I would like to clarify some comments I made in a press conference today and put the record straight. With regard to the U17s we all have a responsibility to help the young players progress and develop after what they have experienced from the World Cup and the I-League. The objective was to give the upcoming Indian players more game time and to play regularly in competitive games week in and week out.I have always said that it’s not about winning but it is about the development in these age-groups.”

“Four of these boys have already been selected in this u23 camp based on what we have seen in the last season. Whether they make it to the final squad or not, remains to be seen the important factor is that we are seeing the progression from the youngsters,” said the coach.

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