New Delhi, Feb 20: Indian football team coach Stephen Constantine on Tuesday accepted the offer to have his contract with the team extended beyond the AFC Asia Cup next year. "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)," Constantine wrote on his blog.
"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," he said.
Constantine and the AIFF were at loggerheads over his salary. Now with the differences seeming to have been sorted out, he will be after the contract extension a foreign coach with the longest tenure in Indian football. His contract was due to expire in March 2018.
In his second stint at the helm of the tiol team, Constantine has led them to a two-decade best of 96th in the FIFA Rankings.
Currently India are at 102nd position. During his tenure, India are on a 13-match unbeaten run stretching back to March, 2016. Of the 13 games, 11 have been wins.
"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 or suspensions," Constantine continued in his blog dwelling on the challenges ahead for the team.
India take part in the Asian Cup next year in January.
"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." IANS