A day prior to taking on the Maldives in the final of the SAFF Suzuki Cup, National Coach Stephen Constantine declared that though they “respect the Maldives,” India fears “no one.” Constantine was speaking at the official pre-match press conference in Dhaka on Friday.
“Even though we have won against them in the group stage, we can’t afford to disrespect them especially after their performance against Nepal. They scored on counter attacks and the last 2 goals within 15 minutes sealed the fate of the match,” he uttered.
“We have to keep in mind that three of their main players didn’t play against us. They have our full respect but we fear no one,” he reiterated.
India have won so far 7 SAFF Championship titles while they have qualified to the final 10 times out of the 11 editions of SAFF Championship.
“It’s a pleasure for us to be here. We had a good game in the semi-finals two days ago and hence, we are here. Now, everyone is fit and raring to give it a shot tomorrow,” the Coach added.
Skipper Subhasish Bose who also attended the press conference expressed that that team is all geared up to give their best on the pitch to retain the trophy.
“We will try our best to retain the trophy. We have been preparing well for the last six and half weeks and now we are in the final. We need to hold our nerves and give our best so that we can get back home with the trophy.”
India have faced off with the Maldives thrice before in the SAFF Championship final (1997, 2008 and 2009) having pipped them twice but Constantine brushed it aside stating that it’ll be a different ball game tomorrow.
“Records don’t speak much because it’s not going to be the same team. Everyone will work hard and churn out the positive result. Hopefully, we can continue the good work and accomplish the target.”
Meanwhile, Lallianzuala Chhhangte was given the marching orders in the semi-final against Pakistan and coach felt “he will be missed.”
“He (Chhangte) is an important player for us. In England, we call these ‘handbags’ (smiles).”
There has been a sizeable section of Indian fans who have turned up to cheer for India and the skipper thanked them for all their support.
“We would like to thank the Indian supporters in Bangladesh who have flocked down to the stadium in numbers to cheer for us. You have been simply outstanding and we would require it tomorrow as well. On the behalf of the team, I would like to request everyone to come down to the Bangabandhu Stadium tomorrow so that we can win the trophy together.”
The match is scheduled to kick-off at IST 6.30pm and will be telecast live on D Sport.