India might have blanked Kenya 3-0 in their previous encounter but head coach Stephen Constantine today said it counts for nothing and his boys will not take their opponents for granted in the finals of the Intercontinental Cup.
Kenya romped into the final of the four-nation tournament after thrashing Chinese Taipei 4-0 in the last league game yesterday to set up the summit clash with hosts India.
“Look, what we did in the round-robin is done and dusted. When we go to the next game, you cannot take anything for granted and we will not take anything for granted,” Constantine told reporters at the pre final media conference.
“Kenya showed yesterday (against Chinese Taipei), that they are capable, especially for (set-pieces), and we need to be very careful and we respect them. But we will try to win the game,” he added.
Constantine, who had made as many as seven changes to India’s starting line-up against New Zealand, said the hosts will field a full strength side tomorrow.
“We will be at our full strength for this game (final). We have two central defenders who have been outstanding for us – Sandesh (Jhingan) and Anas, so that will help,” he said.
The Englishman said his goals from the tournament were fulfilled and the final target is to lift the Trophy.
“Yes, obviously the ultimate is to win (the tournament), the second was to qualify for the final and the third one was to get up a group and in the process try and include as many young players as we possibly can,” Constantine said.
“It has been my mantra in India and just about everywhere I have been. I believe in youth, young players. In the last three and half years, we have given 30 international debuts, 15 of those have proved to be descent players and we have an U23 side coming and 10-11 are in this squad,” he added.
“This (the weather) is something I (cannot) control and we will like to play the final.”
Constantine feels Indian players do have the talent to play abroad.
“The thing what you would have noticed with New Zealand side is that they were comfortable with the ball, because that’s what they have been taught. This is where we need to improve in India, what are we teaching them,” he said.
“Today we don’t have an Indian player playing regularly outside India. That for me is something that I feel strongly about. I believe we have players in this country who can go out and play, I don’t say in La Liga or in Premier League and I would like to see that happen,” said the coach, who is having his second stint with India.
He also clarified that they were yet to get an official word on whether India will go to the Asian Games.
“Hopefully the snippets of news I am getting that the Olympic Committee and the government has decided to send, we have not received anything in writing, if that is the case, then I am thankful. It is a great move and it gives our boys added exposure, so that will be our next camp next month,” he said.
Anirudh Thapa, who plays as a central midfielder, said India need to “adapt to the condition faster.”
“We have to quickly adapt to the situation and play accordingly. If there is water on the pitch, we have to adjust accordingly. The situation against Kenya was challenging but we coped up well. We’ll try to do the same tomorrow,” he quipped.