BENGALURU: Indian football team might have disappointed in the Russian World Cup Qualifiers round, but national coach Stephen Constantine today said they can still move into the Asian Cup Qualifiers phase if they beat Guam tomorrow.
"We have not done enough on expected lines in the world cup qualifiers ... If we win tomorrow, we will give ourselves a chance to storm into the Asian qualifying round, and that's what we would try to do," he told reporters responding to a PTI query here.
Commenting upon India's poor performance in the World Cup qualifiers, Constantine said the very qualification of Indian team to play in World Cup qualifiers is an achievement.
"The fact that we have gone into the qualifiers after beating Nepal itself is an achievement, given the past history, wherein the country for the last time had participated in the qualifiers eight years back," he said.
The team has not done well in the past because of problems relating to preparations and time for playing international friendlies and national calendar, Constantine said.
Nevertheless, India have created a bunch of sixteen played who have played two to three international matches, and lost a couple of close matches, Constantine said.
"Looking at positives, India has created a set of 16 new players, who have been getting international exposure. Most of them have played two to three such matches ... even if we had lost matches, we haven't lost badly or with a big margin," he said.
Constantine said the players have shouldered their responsibilities in terms commitment and willingness to do well for the country.
"The players have a huge responsibility to themselves and the country ... I have not complained about any of the boys in terms of commitment and willingness to do well for India. They know their responsibility and think they have been doing that nicely," he said.
Asked is it fair for Guam to field players who are non-Guams, Constantine said it is a fantastic example which has resulted in the team developing into a difficult team to beat.
"When Brazil, Argentina, Italy and others are using foreign players, then why aren't we? Guam is a fantastic example. I give them credit. In last three to four years, they have developed into a difficult side," he said.
Constantine said it is necessary for his side to win tomorrow's game. "Yes, it is a game that we have to win. We have been saying from the beginning that we have to win our home games to qualify. So, we have another opportunity to do so," he said.
Constantine said the game against Guam will not be easy because they have players having international exposure with some of them playing in the United States.
"This group is not easy. We are not underestimating Guam, or any other team including Afghanistan. Guam have players who are playing in the United States. I knew even before the qualifiers were drawn, I did think that it wouldn't be easy playing Guam," he said.
Meanwhile ace striker Sunil Chhetri leapt to the defence of the coach when a question was raised on Constantine's tenure in the backdrop of India having won just one match in last eight matches.
"My job, who so ever is the coach, I and Gurpreet Sandhu would like to give our best. We would only succeed what the coach wants, and players understand that, and we try to do it. We are no one to judge the coach," Chhetri said.
Replying to a query, Chhetri said his team definitely has a chance to win and for that to happen, they have to play as a team, unlike they had played last time against Guam, losing the away-game 1-2.
"To be honest we didn't play very well. Why we lost in Guam because we didn't play well, and I have no qualms in accepting that ... I wouldn't say we are going to win tomorrow. We definitely have a chance to win the game and we have to play as a team and give everything that we have," he said.
Asked why players do not shine in international matches even after doing wonderfully well in the home leagues including the Indian Super League, Chhetri said there is immense pressure on players even if they are facing the challenge of lesser sides like Bhutan.
"It is a different ball game when you play an international game even if you are facing a lesser team like Bhutan, and the pressure is all different from ISL and I-League," he said.