Constantine preferred due to earlier India experience: AIFF

Constantine preferred due to earlier India experience: AIFF

Constantine preferred due to earlier India experience: AIFF

 All India Football Federation's Secretary Kushal Das today said Englishman Stephen Constantine was preferred head coach of Indian men's football team over North-East United FC Coach Ricki Herbert mainly due to his earlier Indian experience.

"We had Englishman Stephen Constantine and former New Zealand Coach and India Super League franchise side North-East United FC Coach Ricki Herbert in the race.

The technical committee felt it was very important to have a person who is familiar with Indian football, who understands the problems and constraints of the Indian football," he told reporters on the eve of I-League kickoff match between Bengaluru Football Club and Dempo SC here.

Moreover, the federation also considered Constantine's name because India will be playing Asia Cup and eight World Cup qualifiers in 2015 and 2016, Das said.

"India has big commitments like eight World Cup qualifiers, Asia Cup qualifiers in 2015 and 2016, so they felt that a person with Indian experience will be much better off," he added.

Das said Constantine has done wonders to improve India's ranking from 168 to 129. "Constantine has done wonders with the Indian team helping them to improve to 129 from 168 in ranking," he said.

Das said Constantine will join in first week of February, but will not be coaching U-17 team.

The immediate focus for India would be to qualify for Asian Cup in 2019, Das said. "We will start the qualifiers and try to improve the rankings significantly. We need to come down in current rankings," he said.

To yet another query, Das said the federation has shortlisted Nikolai Adams, who was Azerbaijan U-17 coach earlier, and would be interviewed shortly.

Das said the primacy of I-League has not been reduced because of ISL and I-League remains the national league of the country from where the national side is selected.

"I-League continues to be the national league of the country. The national team is selected after seeing their performance in this tournament. Its primacy has not been reduced by any means," he said.

The Federation has big plans to improve infrastructure and television coverage as far as I-League is concerned, Das added.

Das said the Federation's endeavour would be to merge the I-League and ISL in future as around the world there are only one long-duration league.

"We all realise going forward we should have one league. The idea of merging is good, but how can it be and when it can be done, we are not in a position to comment upon, right now," he said.

"Everywhere around the world there is one long-duration - six-month duration - league, and that would be our endeavour, and how it can be done, we will have to wait and see."

To reduce match-strain, Das said the ISL plans to have matches on mid-weeks and weekends, instead of having everyday which strains players. "We have plans not to play ISL matches everyday, but play on mid-weeks and weekends, so that it becomes easier for players," he added.

Das said the I-League will not clash with ISL as the later will have September to December window for the second edition.

"The time schedule for Hero Indian Super League will be from September to December, and I-League will be from December end or first week of January. So, there will be no clash," he said.

Replying to another question, Das said for next two years the matches automatically would be played on FIFA playing days. "Next two years it will happen automatically. Now the way FIFA has structured a nine-day window, where India play for a week will help," he said.

As far as conducting friendlies this year is concerned, it wouldn't be possible, but would be done next March, Das said.

"To organise friendlies it will not be possible this year. We have FIFA window and World Cup qualifiers from September to November, this year. Therefore, friendlies can be played next March. We like to play as many international matches," he added