Intercontinental Cup 2018: Stephen Constantine rues individual errors against New Zealand

AIFF Media
The head coach of the Indian national team feels that the fringe players failed to make use of their chance in the loss against New Zealand...

Indian national team head coach Stephen Constantine rued individual errors that he felt cost his team against New Zealand on Thursday. 

India lost 1-2 to a spirited New Zealand side in their final group game of the 2018 Intercontinental Cup at the Mumbai Football Arena. Sunil Chhetri opened the scoring before Andre De Jong and Moses Dyer scored for New Zealand in the second half. 

Constantine opted to field a heavily rotated side for their third match, making seven changes to the starting lineup that defeated Kenya.  

"The seven changes were going to happen because we are using this tournament to prepare for Asian Cup. We didn't get the result we wanted but it was important that the youngsters got their chances," reasoned Constantine. 

"When you win two games, you maybe get carried away. New Zealand were a young and disciplined side. We made mistakes but didn't start as we do. Individual errors cost us today.

"We started with seven of the bench, you're not going to have 11 Sandesh's (Jhingan) or (Sunil) Chhetri's. Some players didn't take the opportunity to put themselves in the spotlight."

After two wins in the first two games, India only needed to avoid a heavy defeat against New Zealand to prevent a group stage exit in the tournament. 

"We knew we were more or less in the final unless we lost 4-0 or 5-0, which wasn't going to happen. The job was done after the two matches. 

"We're going to play three games in ten days in Asian Cup and hence this tournament was a good opportunity to get used to that."

The English coach also analysed his team's display in the tournament so far, "Sandesh Jhingan is one of the fastest defenders I've seen. We're sometimes naive, make mistakes and against Kenya we were flat. These are things we need to go through in the analysis, by showing it to the players where they can improve. 

"The aerial duels are one of the problems we generally face as we don't have too many big guys in India. Height isn't everything but has to be a factor in the tournament. This is a concern. 

"If I needed to take a point from this game, we would have got it. We knew the job was done in the first two games," he concluded.