India vs Myanmar: Constantine stresses importance of winning momentum ahead of Asian Cup qualifier

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India Colts have already qualified for the Asian Cup courtesy of four consecutive wins in the group stage so far...

India take on Myanmar in their fifth game in group A of third qualification round of Asian Cup. India Colts have already qualified for the Asian Cup courtesy of four consecutive wins in the group stage so far but head coach Stephen Constantine is adamant that the team needs to keep on winning.

"It's important that we continue with the momentum. We're on a good run at the moment and none of us wants that to end. It does give us an opportunity to see some younger players play and you have to wait and see if that happens tomorrow."

"Every time we play for India, it's an important game and we don't want to surrender the first spot that we are in at the moment. So we will obviously try to win the game," said Constantine in the pre-match presser on Monday.

Indian have already qualified and are on an unbeaten streak and Constantine brushed away suggestions of complacency when the players take the field on Tuesday. The game against Myanmar could a golden chance for the team to test their bench strength as well.

"I don't see how playing for India could demotivate you whether you're playing at Wembley, at the Nehru stadium or outside in the street. If you play for your country, that's motivation enough."

"The players need to know that we have already started to prepare for the AFC Asian Cup which starts in tomorrow's match. The players are playing for their positions and their futures. So it doesn't end here. It's just the start of a different cycle. "

Constantine looked back on his team's last match against Myanmar and said that he is expecting a difficult clash.

"I think Myanmar is a very good side. They are very well coached and well disciplined. They play a similar formation to us. The coach (Gerd Zeise) has been with them for the last eight years. He is somebody I respect."

"They gave us a torrid time in Myanmar. It's a game (on Tuesday) that they need some points from so I don't think they are going to be a walk-over. I don't think any of our games are going to be walk-overs until we've done it. I expect a very difficult game tomorrow."

"The season starts next week. It's an important year for Indian football. The slight change to the format means more games. I think it's important for us to end the year with a win and make sure that we finish in first place."

The India Colts coach is expecting the crowd to play their part and is confident of a win.

"Look, they had a lot of the ball [in their last match against India]. They had a lot of chances, they were at home. We had the pressure. I think it was 64 years since we last won there. They played well but at the end of the day, we took our opportunities and they didn't. "

"It will be a very difficult game against them. We can beat them. We're back in Goa after a long time. We hope that the crowd comes out to support us so that we feel the warmth that we feel in Bengaluru where the people come out."

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The coach of India Colts also touched upon the main tournament in 2019  for which they have qualified. He hopes that the team would be healthy and ready.

"It's actually about 14 months from now - January 2019. We have the Asian Games coming up, the SAFF and the FIFA calendar dates which will be respected. There will be a lot of games between now and then for us to get ready. We have a full ISL season this year and next year."

"We hope that the improvement in the U23 team continues because there are some good exciting young players, but they need to be playing as they need some experience. 
Obviously, we hope that the current squad stays healthy and together and then we can give a good account of ourselves in the Asian Cup, which is the platform that India should and needs to be - but not every 10 years, every four years," Constantine signed off.

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