National Coach Stephen Constantine feels that Hero Intercontinental Cup is going to be "very important for our development" and the team will be "learn more from playing" against these tougher opponents.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Indian National team´s preparatory camp here in Mumbai, he said: "I think the tournament is very important for our progression and our development. Contrary to popular belief, we have always tried to get friendlies against bigger teams; you learn more from playing against better teams. But the bigger and better teams do not want to play us for the same reason we don´t want to play smaller teams.”
On being asked how challenging the task is going to be for his boys, the coach added: "It´s good that New Zealand are coming, they are a strong team. Chinese Taipei have improved in the last four to five months under Gary White and I know Kenya will be strong and physical. In fact, any team coming from Africa will be a challenge for us."
The coach who has been always vocal to build a team for the future highlighted the fact that almost half the boys who have been called for the ongoing camp fall in the U-23 age group and the youth have to be given right opportunities to strengthen the base of the pyramid.
"We had dark bad days in the beginning. When I arrived, the average age of the team was 31 years. Fast forward in three and half years, 36 new faces made their National team debut and we have won the Hero Tri-nation tournament, SAFF Championship and now, half the squad is U-23. We have to give the youth players right chance, the right opportunity,” he quipped.
Meanwhile, the coach mentioned that one analyst is going to join the think tank shortly who´ll analyse the opponents as well as the Indian players to fix the right strategy ahead of every single match.
"The GPS system gives us certain info which helps us very much. Now, we have got one guy who is helping Sandesh and Anas to fasten their rehabilitation."
"Another person from Norway is going to join us shortly who´ll help out analysing every match. As of now, he´s relentlessly working for last two weeks breaking down our performance in last ten matches. Then he´ll start with our opponents like Kenya, New Zealand followed by Chinese Taipei. Moreover, he´ll sit along with the players to chalk out our future plans."
Meanwhile, Constantine lavished huge praise for the facilities in Mumbai as well.
"We like to be somewhere where we have least amount of problems and that´s why we have come to Mumbai. We are treated very well here and we have no issue here."
The Coach urged the fans to throng the Andheri Sports Arena in huge numbers to support his boys in the ensuing Hero Intercontinental Cup.
"Come everyone!!! I greatly appreciate the support from West Block Blues, Blue pilgrims and other fan groups. Be it in Kerala, Kolkata, Mumbai, everywhere we have been welcomed by hugely enthusiast group of fans. I would like to give the due credit to my bosses Mr. Praful Patel and Mr. Kushal Das for giving me the freehand to work and the result is speaking for themselves."
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