Stephen Constantine steps down as India coach after Asian Cup exithttps://indianexpress.com/article/sports/football/stephen-constantine-resigns-as-india-coach-afc-asian-cup-2019-5538367/

Stephen Constantine steps down as India coach after Asian Cup exit

Stephen Constantine resigned from his position of Indian football team's head coach after the Blue Tigers suffered an exit from the group stage of the AFC Asian Cup 2019.

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Stephen Constantine’s second stint as India coach ends after the team’s exit from the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. (Source: Reuters)

Stephen Constantine resigned from his position of Indian football team’s head coach after the Blue Tigers suffered an exit from the group stage of the AFC Asian Cup 2019. India had to bow out of the tournament after they suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 loss against Bahrain at the Sharjah Stadium on Monday. Jamal Rashed’s 91st-minute penalty sent India on their way home, after a solid defensive performance from Constantine’s men.

Addressing the media after the match, the Englishman said, “I’ve been here for four years. My objective from day one was to qualify for the Asian Cup and I’ve done that and we’ve broken a few records as we’d done that. I’m exceptionally proud of the players and everything they’ve given.”

“I think my cycle has finished. I did what I was asked to and a little bit more and after four years, I think it’s time to leave,” the Anglo-Cypriot added.

This was Constantine’s second stint as India manager after having been at the helm between 2002 and 2005. He returned to the hot seat after taking over for a second time in 2015, succeeding Dutch Wim Koevermans.

Under the tutelage of Constantine, India did make progress, especially in Fifa world rankings, when they broke into the top-100 last year. The All India Football Federation (AIFF), on its official twitter handle, said that the 56-year-old’s resignation has been accepted. “Mr. @StephenConstan has announced his resignation as the Head Coach of the Indian National Team. We haven’t received any official communication from him yet but we accept his decision & thank him for his contribution to #Indianfootball: Mr. Kushal Das, General Secretary, AIFF,” the tweet said.

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“To go out in the 90th minute with a penalty… it’s really tough. The boys gave everything, I don’t think we created as much as we normally do. The boys are sick as you can imagine and I am disappointed for them. They gave everything they could in the last few games,” he said.

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“We didn’t intentionally set up for a draw. obviously Bahrain started with real energy, looking to get the early goal and as the game wore on, this is maybe a little inexperience on our side… we started defending deeper and deeper and deeper and in the end, we got punished. But I thought we were unlucky. We defended well for ninety-something minutes and as the 70th and 75th minute came on the boys thought, okay we can hold on. Bahrain were playing with six forwards and four in midfield, it was tough, but to get beaten by a penalty is harsh in anybody’s eyes,” he added.