India midfielder Pronay Halder, who played a stellar role in the International Friendly against Oman, is positive that the team can enter the knockout stage in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019. The 25-year-old the ATK midfielder said the target for the Blue Tigers is to get out of the group stage.
Looking back at the recent 0-0 draw against Oman, Halder said the match was an acid test for India as it gave an idea regarding expectation in the Asian Cup. He felt that the players in the squad supported each other while playing against the tough opponent.
In regards to his performance against China and Jordan, Halder reiterated the importance of “fighting for each other as a team” to get the desire results. However, he refused to distinguish the threats from the Asian Cup group teams UAE, Bahrain and Thailand. Halder said he respected the opponent teams but “won’t give away an inch during the match.”
Coach Stephen Constantine is also optimistic about the recent results and he said he believed in capability of his players, and not their age. The Indian for the Asian Cup comprises players with an average age of 25.
He said the situation is “fantastic for Indian Football where we can foresee a team for the next 10 years.”
Meanwhile, the India Football Federation dismissed the rumors about ‘parting ways with National Team Coach Stephen Constantine after January 2019.’
Condemning the media and its speculations, AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das said the reports are “completely baseless and utter rubbish.”
“It is sad that the media is indulging in baseless and silly speculation before such an important tournament of the National Team,” Das said.
When Constantine took the charge in 2015, India were ranked 173 in the FIFA world ranking. The Blue Tigers came through a long way under the English coach to climb up to 97.