The Indian football team is just a few days away from marching out for their Asian Cup opener and fans are watching on with bated breath. Former Indian captain IM Vijayan is no different. The striker, who will be in UAE for the tournament, shares his thoughts on the team, coach Stephen Constantine’s selections and the drought that the forwards are facing…
On the mood in the camp
I think there is a good feeling in the camp right now because of the results we have been getting. We qualified for the Asian Cup pretty easily. The team then held China on their home turf and lost to Jordan only by a single goal. So they will be confident of getting some good results.
Say whatever you want about Constantine but I think he has a done a good job. There was a time when everyone wanted him out but he is still here. Why? Because he has got the results. You cannot dismiss someone who has got good results. I could not have imagined us qualifying for the Asian Cup with a couple of games to spare a few years ago. And the best thing about his stint is the number of young players he has blooded. The kind of experience that these players are getting at the international level will aid their development.
On the likes of Rahul Bheke not being picked
Those are definitely valid complaints — a few players who have been doing really well in the Indian Super League are not going to UAE. I am a big fan of Rahul Bheke and I think he is the best right back in ISL right now. That game against Pune City FC where he scored an own goal at the very beginning, only to strike a late winner shows how much willpower he has. I am also a big fan of Jobby Justin who has been doing really well for East Bengal. I think he is one of most in-form forwards in either league right now. But having said that, I can understand why Constantine chose to stick with a group of players he is familiar with. The players he has picked have been playing together for a while now and doing well. He may not want to change that combination just days ahead of a big tournament.
On forward line not firing
That none of the forwards, except (Sunil) Chhetri, have been scoring is a cause of concern. But one thing I’ve experienced as a player is that playing for your club and your country are two different things. You are playing alongside a whole other set of players. So you never know, the likes of Jeje (Lalpekhlua) and Balwant (Singh) might find their scoring boots again in UAE.
On India’s chances
I think we can do well. We will definitely be playing where a win is not out of question. We drew against China and they are one of the better teams in the continent. Plus playing in Abu Dhabi will be similar to home game. There are a lot of Indian experts there and I remember them flocking to the stands whenever I was playing here. I am sure it will be the same in the Asian Cup.
Quotes Via The Indian Express