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Nine wins mean nothing if we don’t qualify for Asian Cup: Coach Constantine

Chief football coach Stephen Constantine doesn’t want to dwell on the past and said India’s nine-match winning streak will count for nothing if they fail to qualify for the Asian Cup.

India registered their ninth win on the trot when they trounced Mauritius in the tri-nation series opener 2-1, courtesy strikes by forwards Robin Singh and Balwant Singh on either sides of the break.

“It (nine wins on the trot) makes nothing if we don’t qualify for the Asian Cup, that’s what it means. I am proud to have made this little bit of history but if I don’t qualify for the Asian Cup, what’s the use of nine wins in a row, or 10 or 11 or 12,” he told reporters on Saturday.

“Records are there and they are nice. It is important to win, we want to win to continue to win, but our focus is 1000 per cent on Macau. We need to get something in that game (against Macau), bring home and finish it (qualify),” he quipped ahead of the game on September 5.

Constantine said his team was more dominant in the second half after conceding the first goal in the 15th minute.

“Ok, not happy, happy but, I am ok. I have seen Mauritius, I knew they were going to play like this and they perhaps could have played a little bit better.

“We didn’t do what we normally do, gave them too much respect. We conceded the goal which they deserved, we were fortunate to get the equaliser, we made few change in the second half and we dominated it,” he added.

The Englishman also expressed his displeasure with the way the team played during the first half.

“I did not like the way we played the first half, I don’t like when we give other team the headstart, we are not the kind of team when we give other team one goal lead and we can play and another day get punished. In the break, I told the boys to buck up in a polite way and they did,” he said.

He further praised skipper and central midfielder Sandesh Jhinghan saying he is player “who should be playing in bigger league”.

“The captain has to reflect the character of the coach, Sandesh is a fighter just like me. He leads by example and I think when Sunil (Chettri) is ready to packing in, we have one more person who can be captain,” he added.

The coach also heaped praise on other players Robin Singh, Balwant, who got his first international goal, and debutant Manvir Singh.

Constantine hinted that he could make changes for the game against St Kitts and Nevis, scheduled here on August 24.

Mauritian skipper Kevin Bru said they tried to push India but they defended well. “Well done India, I am happy with my teammates as we played good football,” he added.

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