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Maldives is a tricky opponent: Constantine

Thiruvananthapuram :Any slip-up in tomorrow’s semifinals against Maldives could be a disaster for hosts India but head coach Stephen Constantine today backed his players to come out triumphant in the potentially high-voltage clash in the South Asian Football Federation Cup here.

Constantine’s India went into the tournament after suffering five straight losses and one win in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and they would be under pressure to make amends in the SAFF Cup which they have dominated for long with six titles to their kitty.

India have featured in all but one summit clash of the earlier 10 editions of the SAFF Cup and anything less than a final appearance in this tournament, which is also being held at home, will be considered a disaster.

Maldives are the second most successful side in SAFF Cup history and they are currently above India in FIFA rankings at 160th (against India’s 166th), and Constantine was understandably cautious in his remarks at the match-eve press conference.

“We are looking forward to a difficult game against Maldives as they are a good side. Not only are Maldives highly organised, they are good in the attacking department too. It will be tricky,” he said.

Talking about his squad, Constantine said, “The 19 players we have now have all performed brilliantly. Although our preparations were hampered by Robin Singh’s injury, which is a big blow for us, life goes on. But it also gives the opportunity to other players to fill into his shoes.”

The Briton said that the SAFF Cup gave the opportunity to play youngsters opponents of similar levels, allowing them to evolve in a competitive environment.