For the ultimate tie of the Tri-Nation series in the bustling city of Mumbai, hosts India will take on St. Kitts and Nevis on Thursday evening.
Ahead of the tie against the 125th ranked side, head coach Stephen Constantine addressed the gathered media. Speaking of the areas in which the Blue Tigers need to improve, the 54-year-old stated that the Sandesh Jhingan-led side needs to increase their intensity and pace on the pitch.
''I think we need to start a bit stronger than we did in the last game (vs Mauritius). We have a tendency to start slow and I think that sometimes causes us a problem like it did against Mauritius as they got the first goal. We did the same thing even with Puerto Rico where they got the first goal, too. We need to come out a bit quicker and more focused, those are the key areas in my opinion,'' he commented.
India's opponents for Thursday, St. Kitts and Nevis battled it out against Mauritius on 22nd August where they restricted Francisco Filho's men to a 1-1 draw. Having assessed the match, gaffer Constantine claimed that The Sugar Boyz performed well to restrict Mauritius to a draw. Moreover, he spoke about the threat they could pose for his Indian contingent.
''I believe St. Kitts and Nevis did a very good job containing Mauritius. I thought Mauritius would be a bit more aggressive but they sat back and they paid for it. You have to give credit to St. Kitts and Nevis, they worked hard and kept players behind the ball. They worked their socks off to keep themselves in the game and I think they are quite dangerous, especially on the counter attack,'' explained the London-born coach.
The win on Saturday against Mauritius marked India's third consecutive win at the Mumbai Football Arena with the earlier victories having been registered against Puerto Rican and Nepalese sides. Speaking more of the tournament, the former Sudan manager remarked, ''The good thing about the tri nation tournament is that these are two teams from different continents and they have different philosophies, styles and ways of playing.''
A number of U-23 players featured in the latest tie, namely Nikhil Poojary, Manvir Singh and Jerry Lalrinzuala. On being asked about the future of the youth system, the coach explained that the country has talent in abundance but demands more and more scouting. ''The current batch of the U-23s side that we put together in less than a month, there are some decent players there. There is talent all over India, it is just that we aren’t looking. We need to do a lot more in terms of looking for players and in terms of developing them. From the current batch of U-23s, I believe there are a bunch of players who will go on to have an international career,'' he concluded.
The match is scheduled for 24th August, 8 PM at the Mumbai Football Arena.