MUMBAI: Coach Stephen Constantine says the Indian football team has done enough in the last few years to merit a decent crowd turnout, and begging for support was one thing it did not deserve.
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Constantine was asked about skipper Sunil Chhetri’s impassioned plea urging people to come and cheer the team in the ongoing Intercontinental Cup.
Chhetri’s video post struck a chord with the Mumbaikars, who turned up in droves for the second game against Kenya, two days after giving the tournament opener a miss.
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It was Chhetri’s 100th international game and he made it memorable by scoring a brace and guiding India into the final following a 3-0 win.
As the discussion turned to crowd at the post-match press conference, Constantine said, “Look, I have said it before and I don’t feel that we should be begging people to come and watch the national team.
“The response today was unbelievable, what I expect from the Blue Pilgrims and the rest of the people, it’s not only the Blue Pilgrims.
“… But the national team is playing in the manner, we’ve been playing for last three and half years, and the things that we have achieved in three and half years, (and) we still feel disappointed to see such a crowd in the last game.
He added, “Today I thank every single one of them and I expect them to be here for the following two games.”
From 2000 for the game against Chinese Taipei, the number of fans swelled to almost 9000 for last night’s match, pretty impressive for a stadium that can accommodate around 10000 people.
Courtesy the win, India are in the final of the competition, to be played on June 10, and before that they take on New Zealand on Thursday.
Constantine said that he was delighted over this win and for Chhetri.
“I was thinking before this game, who is going to spoil this day for him (Chhetri) and for us. I am delighted that he got a couple of goals and obviously delighted that we won. So, I don’t think that he is going to forget it for some time,” the coach stated.
Constantine said that the aim was to make the final of the four-nation tournament.
“Firstly I am going to congratulate the boys for a hard-fought win. Difficult conditions obviously because with the rain, we couldn’t play particularly well in the first half, gave them too much space, difficult to play in those conditions.
“By the way another clean-sheet, thank you (pointing towards Sandesh Jhinghan). It takes us into the final of this tournament, which is what we wanted to achieve from the beginning. (Focus on) next game (now),” noted Constantine.