Cypriot Stephen Constantine will return as Indian football team’s chief coach for the second time as his name has been cleared by the All India Football Federation’s Technical Committee. Constantine’s appointment is expected to be officially announced next week by the AIFF and the English-Cypriot will begin his new stint in the new year.
“It is more or less certain that Constantine will be the Indian football team head coach. The AIFF Technical Committee has cleared his name and the official announcement is expected early next week,” a top source said on the condition of anonymity.
The 52-year-old Constantine, who was India coach from 2002 to 2005, will, however, get significantly lower salary than what his predecessor Wim Koevermans was getting. Dutchman Koevermans reportedly got around $20,000 per month before he left the job recently after a just over two-year stint.
Constantine, who has coached the national teams of Nepal, Malawi and Sudan and currently in charge of Rwanda, got the nod ahead of former New Zealand coach and India Super League franchise side NorthEast United FC coach Ricki Herbert mainly due to his earlier Indian experience.
Constantine reportedly comes within the pay package of the AIFF his salary being below that of Koevermans. He also has experience of coaching national team and in the process has better knowledge and understanding of Indian football, its geography and perhaps culture.
Constantine achieved some success in his earlier three-year stint as India head coach. In his first tournament in charge, India won the LG Cup against Vietnam under Baichung Bhutia’s captaincy.
Although India failed to qualify for the 2004 Asian Cup, the senior national team won a silver medal in the inaugural Afro-Asian Games in 2003, with victories over Rwanda and Zimbabwe (then 85 places ahead of India in FIFA rankings) along the way, losing in the final 0-1 to Uzbekistan.
In November 2003, the AFC named Constantine as Asia Manager/Coach of the Month.