Indian national football team coach Stephen Constantine has accepted a contract extension that will see him remain coach of the side till the end of the AFC Asian Cup in 2019. The Indian team qualified for the Asian Cup for the first time under Constantine, since appearing in the 2011 edition of the tournament under Bob Houghton.
If Constantine sees his contract through, he will become the longest serving foreign coach of the national team in Indian football history. Houghton was coach of the side from 2006 to 2011. Constantine’s first stint with the team was from 2002 to 2005, and his second stint began in 2015, running through to 2019 (a total of seven years).
Under Constantine, the Indian team rose to a two decade high ranking of 96, and currently sits at the 102nd position. Announcing the contract extension on his personal blog, the Englishman said, “After accepting my second contract extension with the All India Football Federation, I will have the longest tenure of any foreign coach in Indian history, with a total of seven years (2002 – 2005; 2015 – 2019). I am of course immensely proud of that, and of our accomplishments in both stints. This time round, qualifying for the Asian Cup in 2019, winning the SAFF, and taking India to its highest ranking in modern history, 96 are all great achievements. I really could not have done this without the support of the AIFF, my staff and, of course, the players.”
Speaking about the fixtures that the Indian team was to play in 2018, Constantine added, “It is going to be a tough season and hopefully an injury-free one as well. As we head into the start of this schedule in March we already have several players out with injury and or suspensions. We are going to need all hands on deck going forward. As always with me, it is the players that are willing to play for the team and do the work that interest me. We have shown over the last two years that the current group of players are fighters and will give everything in every game.”
“The door is open to any Indian player who is willing to do the work, the job we need him to, in the National Team,” he concluded.