Constantine bats for PIO players

Football : Coach says he has identifed talent

Constantine bats for PIO players

 Indian football coach Stephen Constantine said he has identified a few persons of Indian origin (PIO), who would “add great value” to the beleaguered national team, which sunk to a new low after losing in the World Cup qualifiers to Guam recently on Wednesday.

“I would like the opportunity to select some of the players that are of Indian origin or have roots here to play for the Indian national team.

“There are a number of players that I have identified who would add great value to the team and obviously improve us as a whole,” Constantine wrote on his official blog.

The 52-year-old Briton, however, added that this may not necessarily mean a long-time solution.

“This is, of course, not the long-term solution, it is a way where we can improve results in the next few years now but at the same time make sure we are doing the right things when it come to developing players here in India,” he said.

The PIO issue once again came to the fore after India’s 1-2 defeat to Guam (174), ranked 33 places below the South Asian nation.

After the loss, Constantine raised the issue citing Guam’s example who fielded several US-based players during their win against India.

“How can we do this without upsetting the government’s policies, the recent result against Guam has for sure raised the issue of why we are not allowed to use Indian players playing abroad,” he said.

Constantine said the All India Football Federation (AIFF) is doing the right thing by appointing skilled staffs for the junior sides.  "The AIFF has begun that process by appointing Nicolai Adam as the national U-17 coach and then allowing me to bring in Lee Johnson to run our U-19 national team this is giving those players from U-15 up to U-19 a solid football education which will pay dividends in the ensuing years."

The coach suggested that if the government can recognise the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card, then the players with Indian roots can play for the country.

"My point is that in other countries this process is happening at all levels, especially at the club level.

“So how do we get the government to look at this rule so that we can take advantage of Indians who want to come and play."

The OCI card is perhaps the best option if our government recognises that OCI card holders can represent India in sports this can solve the problem and we can take full advantage as have all the other countries around the world regarding this issue," Constantine said.

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