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Constantine offered contract extension till 2019 Asian Cup

Thursday, February 08, 2018

New Delhi: Indian football coach Stephen Constantine was offered a contract extension till the end of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup but it remains to be seen whether the incumbent and the national federation reach a consensus on his demand for a salary hike.

Under Constantine's tutelage, the Indian team has enjoyed a string of highly impressive results in recent times but his future looked uncertain owing to a demand for a salary hike. He is said to be considering offers from two more teams.

The "unanimous" recommendation was passed in Mumbai by the All India Football Federation's technical committee headed by former India player Shyam Thapa. The technical committee's recommendation will now have to be ratified by the AIFF's executive committee.

The team has stayed undefeated in 13 matches, an unprecedented run that includes 11 wins and two draws.

Under the Englishman, the Indian team also achieved its best FIFA ranking since February 1996 as it was placed at No.96 in the rankings released last July.

Given the team's dream run of wins, the AIFF's top brass was naturally not keen on parting ways with the 55-year-old Constantine. "The members felt that the Indian senior national men's team met the dual strategic objectives of AIFF by qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup 2019 as well as by consistently achieving a top 15 FIFA ranking amongst Asian countries in the recent past," the technical committee said in a release.

It added, "Accordingly, there was no reason for the AIFF not to offer a contract to Stephen."

Asked about Constantine's call for a salary hike, technical committee's deputy chairman Henry Menezes said, "We have just recommended an extension as the team met two major objectives under him. Now, we will have to see if he accepts the extension."

Menezes, who is a former international and CEO of Western India Football Association (WIFA), added, "Bonuses and all for the coach don't come under the purview of the technical committee and the management would take this matter up."

Constantine began his second stint in India in January 2015 and got a 14-month extension in November 2016.

His tenure started on a disastrous note as India were blanked in the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifiers, including a 1-2 away loss to tiny Guam.

However, the team made a dramatic recovery after that bad phase and went on to win as many as 11 matches while staying undefeated in 13 games.

The national team was languishing in mid-170s when Constantine took over.

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