Indian national team coach Stephen Constantine is looking forward to face Nepal in the 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 AFC Asian Cup Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1.
The Englishman is fully aware of the tough challenge ahead as India didn’t perform very well in the recent past, while Nepal made a steady progress.
“I think it’s going to be a very difficult draw for both teams,” Stephen told in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com. “India haven’t done very well in the past few years, and Nepal have made good strides forward, so it will be difficult. At this point in time, there isn’t a favourite, both teams are quite evenly matched and it will depend on who can make the home advantage count. We have the first leg at home, that’s always nice. You know what you’ve got to do and when you go into the other game you know what you need to do to try and keep it.”
Stephen coached the Nepal national team from 1999 to 2001 before coaching India from 2002 to 2005. “Nepal has a very special place in my heart, we had a good two years there. The recognition I received from his majesty (the late King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev) and everybody else was unbelievable. But this is business. I’m going back to win a game. ”
“It’s an absolute must for India to win this game, and that’s what we’ll try and do. With Nepal you can expect that they will fight for every minute of every game, they don’t know when to quit. We’re going to need to be at our very best to beat a Nepal side, who will push and press you. Both games will be very difficult,” Stephen stated to FIFA.com.
“Everything now is geared towards this first game. We need to make sure we pick the right players, in the right positions and the right style of how we want to play,” Stephen added.
The Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1 matches will be played on a home and away basis on March 12 and March 17.