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Constantine not afraid of being sacked

July 22, 2004 10:39 IST

Peeved at the demand for his removal after India's dismal outings in recent international matches, India chief football coach Stephen Constantine said he was not afraid of losing his job as he has alternative offers.

"I know some people want me to go. That's the reason the team's defeat against Japan is only highlighted. On the other hand, the successes the team achieved under me is not being highlighted," the 41-year old Anglo-Cypriot told newspersons in Kolkata on Wednesday.

Constantine said the Indian team did not do well in only two or three of the 23 matches it played under him.

"But I find that only the 0-7 defeat against Japan is being talked about. But then Japan is a very powerful team," he said.

"If the All India Football Federation decides to sack me, it is its prerogative. I'm not afraid of being sacked. I already have offers from another country," he said.

However, AIFF secretary Alberto Colaco ruled out removing Constantine before his contract expires in June next year.

Constantine, who took over as chief national coach two years back, tasted initial success when the Indian team achieved the rare distinction of a title win abroad by annexing the LG Cup in Vietnam and missed a last eight berth in the Busan Asian Games by a whisker.

Though India also finished second best in the inaugural Afro-Asian Games last year, their performance seemed to have nose-dived recently, with defeats against Oman and Japan in the World Cup qualifiers raising shrill cries for his removal.

Reiterating that he is not bothered by criticism, Constantine said, ''I've no intention of quitting. But I'll give my best as long as I'm here as chief coach."

Blaming the absence of a youth development programme for the lack of quality new players, he said, ''I've been crying hoarse over this since 2002. I M Vijayan has already retired. What'll happen when Baichung Bhutia also hangs his boots?''

On the formation of the new national selection committee, Constantine said, ''I know all the players who play in the National Football League. But if the committee can spot talented footballers other than those taking part in the NFL, I shall definitely look into it. I'm open to suggestions.

''But as coach, I am the one who has to answer for the team's successes and failures. So, I should have the last word in the final team selection,"' he added.

Despite facing criticism from ex-players and coaches for ignoring medio Shasthi Dule and defender Sur Kumar Singh, Constantine indicated that the duo had no place in his scheme of things.

"Duley is good for only club level tournaments. On the other hand, Sur Kumar does not fit into my strategy,'' he said.

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