Stephen Constantine, the coach of the Indian national team, believes his squad has the ability to beat any team on their day.
The gaffer was speaking to the Press ahead of India's opening Group A tie against home side Myanmar, in their efforts to qualify for the Asian Football Confederation's (AFC) Asian Cup, hosted by the United Arab Emirates, in 2019. The match will take place on Tuesday, 28th March.
He, however, issued a warning to the Indian team not to underestimate the Burmese Angels solely by their FIFA ranking, wherein they site 40 places below India, calling them favourites heading into the crucial opening bout.
"We’ll prepare like we have for the last two days. We’ve been working hard. We understand the game will be very tough. Myanmar has a very good team, very good situation here, on the field and I think Myanmar are the favourites for this game," responded the coach, when quizzed on his approach for the game.
Asked as to whether he is taking his team into battle with a mentality to beat the home side, the British-Cypriot coach remarked, "I believe we have a chance to qualify and I like to think Myanmar has the same. I’m not sure about Kyrgyzstan or Macau. It’s the first game of the competition, it’s an away game and we didn’t come here to lose. We have big respect for Myanmar we come here to play. They’ve shown big improvement over the last few years. But we come here to play."
Laying bare the amount of preparation his team has put in for this game, the 54-year-old coach remarked, "If I didn’t think we could beat them, I wouldn’t beat them. We can beat anyone on our day. We have to do our work. We have to hope Myanmar has a bad day and we have a good one to win. We have planned for about 10 days for this game."
The coach was asked to put his best analytical thinking cap on and determine the extremum of points a team would require to qualify from the group for the Asian cup. He estimated, "I do think the home games are must wins – 9 pts, we have to win. So 9 points will take you to the final, in UAE."
When asked about the facets of the Myanmar team, as noted by him, the former Rwanda national team coach jovially replied, "I’m not gonna tell you that," before seriously adding, "They work hard, quick. The work that’s been done by my colleague (Gerd) Zeise is very good. We expect a very difficult game home and away."
Finally, asked if pressure from the home support was enough to rile Constantine up, the coach concluded, as a matter-of-fact, "Pressure from the home fans is on the home team."