“We are disappointed. Today the difference was very much visible between a group of players who have the best football education and the rest,” India men’s football team’s head coach Stephen Constantine uttered the words after his side was outplayed 2-1 by Guam, a nation with a population of 159,358 (according to 2010 census). 159,358? That’s like less than a populated colony in Delhi.
After going down 1-2 to an opponent, read Oman, ranked 40 places above them, lot was expected from the Sunil Chhetri-led unit against the Islanders, ranked 33 places below them. High on ‘positives drawn from the loss in the opener’ and the backing they were receiving on the social media, India seemed ready for the Guam challenge.
Match day, however, unfolded a similar story as India went down 1-2. India’s first and only goal came in the 93rd minute when Guam were already in celebratory mode. It was Chhetri’s 50th goal for India. But did it really matter? He has been Constantine’s lone goal-scorer in the three matches India have played under him. Individual brilliance can’t win you football games, on a consistent basis.
What really went against India?
“We lacked football intelligence in key moments of the game and that cost us,” said Constantine. The Indian coach also stressed on the fact that 75% players were born and brought up in the US and it made a huge difference.
But these are things beyond your control, right? You can’t sit and crib on the fact and affect your preparations and game-day mindset because of that. It’s like losing the battle before even sprinting a yard in the middle.
Guam turned out and outplayed India in all departments, against popular perception. The coach was expecting a tough battle and on the advantage of picking American-based players, all the coach could do was smile.
“Right from the outset, I had expected a tough game. The advantage which Guam has is to pick America-based players and they made good use of them,” said Constantine’s rival counterpart Gary White.
Next, India play Iran who are ranked way above them, and imagining a draw can be a luxurious thought.