India overcame a stiff challenge from a defiant Cambodian team to win 2-3 on Wednesday night at Phnom Penh. Head coach Stephen Constantine sounded happy after India won their first away international friendly in 12 years but was left unimpressed with the slow start made by the Blue Tigers.
REPORT: CAMBODIA 2-3 INDIA
"Congratulations to Cambodia. I thought they played very well for long parts of the game. Considering they have a new coach and it has been only two-three weeks for him, I think it was a good start for them," he said praising the newly appointed Leonardo Vitorino's Blue Koupreys.
He added, "I think they all played very well. If I am the coach of Cambodia then I will be very happy only after two weeks."
"For us, it was an opportunity to introduce some new players and it was not so easy for us because of the work the Cambodian players did. We played better in the second half and when we scored the third goal we thought we might get another one or two so we got a bit relaxed."
"But the important thing is that we won the game and we do not have any injuries and next week we have a very difficult game against Myanmar," the former Rwanda coach commented while analysing the performance of the 132nd ranked team.
When quizzed about the insipid display in the first half, Constantine agreed with the reporters who termed India 'disinterested'. "I agree that we were a bit casual in the beginning mainly because we haven't played together since September which is a long time," quipped the Englishman.
India have now won all their last five games but Constantine chose to lambast the lackadaisical attitude of the players in the opening forty-five minutes.
"Every time you play for the national team, you want to win. Results matter and it is nice to continue the winning streak. We need to start quicker. It is a must in international football. We have a habit of taking it a bit lightly and starting the game slowly. We can’t afford to do that. If you do that, you bring about your own downfall."
Going forward, India face Myanmar in their opening fixture of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup third qualifying round in Group A in Yangon on 28th March. The former Nepal coach envisaged a quick turnaround from his wards to keep themselves in the race to reach the finals of Asia's flagship tournament.
"At the end of day, it’s a win and I am very happy for the boys and all who have been involved in the process. But there is no place to go over the moon. We have a sterner test next week, an acid test in fact," Constantine said.