Chief coach Stephen Constantine on Friday made it clear that he believes in the ability of his players and not their ages, saying he can foresee a team which can serve Indian football for the next 10 years.
India is fielding the second youngest side with an average age of 25 in the forthcoming AFC Asian Cup in UAE slated to begin from January 5.
“I never differentiate between seniors and juniors. They are all playing for India. I’m not interested in their ages, but their abilities. Our average age is about 25. The situation is fantastic for Indian Football where we can foresee a team for the next 10 years,” Constantine said, the morning after India played a goalless draw against Oman in an international friendly.
“After this tournament, we’ll have a young Indian squad with an experience of playing in an Asian Cup,” he added.
Referring to the goalless draw against Oman, Constantine said he was pleased with the efforts of his side.
“It was a very good game for us. Oman were a very difficult opponent and have been unbeaten in the last 12 months. The boys worked very hard and I’m very pleased with the positive result,” he said.
“It was phenomenal from the work-rate perspective. The numbers are exceptional. We were superb physically.”
Oman headed into the match with a 12-match-unbeaten-run which included victories against the likes of Kuwait, Palestine, Bahrain and even world-cuppers Saudi Arabia.
With almost 27 per cent of the population in UAE being Indians, the Blue Tigers are expected to get a vociferous cheer from the stands when they begin their campaign in the Asian Cup against Thailand on January 6.
“There’s no pressure on us. Four years before no one expected us to qualify. After we qualified everyone was thinking that we are going to lose the three games. It’s up to us to prove that we deserve to be here,” Constantine said.
India created a few opportunities against Oman but failed to capitalise on them.