IM Vijayan: Stephen Constantine has chosen the perfect Indian teamLast updated on Jan 03, 2019, 08:14 pm
The AFC Asian Cup kicks off from Saturday, and the Indian team is gearing up for their first match against Thailand.
Both captain Sunil Chhetri and coach Stephen Constantine are confident of making a good impression this term.
India's legendary former striker IM Vijayan has also given his approval regarding the team Constantine has selected.
Vijayan says India can progress beyond the group stage
The former striker believes India have a clear chance of progressing to the knockout stage.
Vijayan lauded India's performance against teams like Oman and China, and also the fact that India had qualified for the tournament with two games in hand.
Notably, only hosts UAE are ranked above India among the Group A teams, and thus Chhetri and company do have a chance of qualifying.
New players can join after the campaign: Vijayan
Constantine has been criticized in certain quarters regarding his team selection as he has mostly chosen experienced players as a part of his squad for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
Some believe younger players deserved a chance to be a part of the tournament.
However, Vijayan agrees that these players, most of whom were a part of the qualification process, deserve to be in the squad.
Constantine has been praised by players like Ashique Kuruniyan
Hailing from Vijayan's own state, winger Ashique Kuruniyan has also heaped praises on Constantine.
Recently, Kuruniyan clearly said that he considers Constantine to be the best coach he has ever worked under, and that he has learned a lot from the Englishman.
Ashique has also been impressive with his performances for Pune City FC, which is believed to be a major reason for him being selected.
Have to reach top 8: Team director Abhishek Yadav
The Indian national football team's director, Abhishek Yadav, on announcing the Indian squad, had said that the objective of the AIFF is that the men's team should reach the top 8 in Asia while the women's team should reach the top 3 by 2026.
Yadav sounded positive about the idea that playing in such a premier competition would be helpful for the team.