India confirmed their berth in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 after defeating Macau 4-1 in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 Qualifiers at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Wednesday. India are now seated affirm at the top of group A with 12 points from 4 matches ahead of Mauritius, the Kyrgyz Republic and Macau. This is India's fourth qualification after 1964, 1984 and 2011.
India skipper Sunil Chhetri sounded pretty calm but resolute at the post-match press conference and said, "We have achieved our target but we should keep our heads down and keep on working hard to finish first in the group." Chhetri, who scored his 55th International goal tonight, stated that a lot of work to be done before approaching the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.
"We have to play more games now to get prepared. It's just the starting of the hard work. More the matches we play, better for ourselves before facing the big fishes of Asia," he pronounced. Meanwhile, coach Stephen Constantine referred to the victory as a "terrific team effort over anything else."
"We achieved our goal tonight to qualify for Asian Cup. I'm immensely proud of my team. They have followed my manners, my demands. They've gone through anything and everything like the tough training regime, rigorous pressure and at the end of the day, they have delivered," he said.
"Yes, we have achieved our target but the job is far from being done. We want to finish first in the group. Let's have a good sleep tonight. But we can't afford to sit and celebrate for long. We have to back to the business pretty soon as we're playing Myanmar shortly," he added. The head coach further insisted that the current team was surely one of the best Indian teams in history.
"If not the best, this Indian team is surely one of the best Indian teams in history and the credit goes to all. Starting from the players to the supporting stuff, it's the result of everyone's dedication and hard work. It's an honour of the entire country but only the team. Right from the clubs, coaches everyone has played their part to see this success. Surely the ride hasn't been a merrier one, but finally, we have achieved this," he said.
Constantine also lavished huge praise on Balwant Singh who got the crucial assist for Sunil's goal in the second half. "He (Balwant) did exactly what's been asked. His inclusion was great. After he was introduced, Sunil got the room to play with the ball and everyone knows, if he gets the room, he can be really dangerous," he said.
(With inputs from ANI)