Veteran India goalkeeper Subrata Paul on Sunday said coach Stephen Constantine has helped Indian football a great deal and has brought in a change in the sport since taking over in February 2015.
“He has been in charge for almost 30 months now and if you look back at the journey, as far as FIFA Rankings are concerned he has delivered what no other coach in India has been able to achieve so far,” Paul told www.the-aiff.com two days ahead of India’s crunch Asian Cup 2019 qualifiers game against Macau.
“No coach has been able to make us win nine games on the trot; no coach has been able to take us from 173 to 96 in the FIFA Rankings. And none happened by fluke. You can never win nine at a stretch by fluke; you can never jump 77 places in FIFA rankings by fluke. We have achieved all of that under Constantine.
“Moreover, he has handed debuts to 35 youngsters so far, many of whom will hold the fort for the national team for the next few years. In that sense, he has already created the supply line. He has brought in a revolution, a total change in Indian football,” Paul, who was part of India’s last Asian Cup sojourn in 2011, said.
India take on Macau at their Olympic Stadium on Tuesday sitting pretty at the top of Group A with six points from two outings. India beat Myanmar and Kyrgyz Republic by solitary goals en route. A win on Tuesday will see the men in blue have one foot on the qualification.
“We are unbeaten in the last 10 matches, having won nine of them (including the unofficial match against Bhutan),” Paul said.
“The boys are confident and the body language is very positive. A team is always judged by its ability to sustain the momentum and at present, we have worked hard to retain the winning streak. The rhythm defines the squad. The two practice matches could not have come at a better time.”
Asked to explain the significance of the Asian Cup, Paul said: “It’s hard to explain till one actually plays in it. Even before I landed in Doha in 2011, I wasn’t aware of its magnitude, the atmosphere. It is one of the biggest Championships in the World, it’s the Continental Championship.
“As a player, it’s a dream to play there and we cannot take our foot off the pedal at the moment.”