Indian national football team coach Stephen Constantine remains visibly disappointed at the sports ministry's insistence on not allowing PIOs (Persons of Indian Origin) to represent the national side.
Ahead of the crucial World Cup 2018 Preliminary Joint Qualification game against Guam in Bangalore today (12 November), the British coach once again put forward his request to the government to look into the case of PIOs for representing the Indian national team.
He had earlier raised this issue after India's first leg encounter against Guam in June this year. Constantine complained that India were at a disadvantage as many of the players from the island nation were of US origin.
And now, once again, ahead of their second leg clash, Constantine hopes that the prime minister of India finally looks in to this request. "No rationale has been offered [by the sports ministry]. I have been told it is what it is. Just get on with what you have, that is what I will do," a visibly upset Constantine was quoted by Goal.
"This is how the situation is. I knew this before I came here, I hoped we would be able to change and I hope Mr. [Narendra] Modi is listening and he can help," the ex-Rwanda coach added.
The British coach also earlier urged the Indian government to recognise OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) cards, and find out some kind of a way to make the players with Indian roots play for the national team. He also gave a detailed explanation once again on the situation and said that compared to other football nations, India remains at a huge disadvantage.
"There are many Indian players playing abroad who would add value to this team. I do not say that it is the long term solution. But if Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy and Argentina are using foreign nationals to represent their country, then why aren't we?
"Guam has been a fantastic example and I give them credit that they have been professional, worked hard and credit to the coach (Gary White) that in the last 3-to-4 years they have developed into a difficult side. They are using that rule but there is nothing I can do about it," the British coach added.
Earlier this year, AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das mentioned that there were some players, which included the likes of Luciano Narsingh (Holland) and Harmeet Singh (Norway), identified by Constantine to represent the national team.
Not only that, English players like Netan Sansara, Aman Verma, Danny Tanveer, Rikki Bains, Malvind Benning, Dylan Lall, Netherlands winger Diego Biseswar, as well as Welshman Neil Taylor, can have every chance of representing India in international football, but Constantine does not see this happening until the Govt of India changes their stance on PIOs.
"It's a government issue. Until the rules change we have to carry on," the 53-year-old continued. "We have ability in this country, we have talent in this country but we have got to find them. You need to work with them and you need time with them, I don't say time as in I need another two or three years. We need time as in time on the pitch with the boys.
"I had two hours before the game against Turkmenistan and two hours before the game against Oman. There is not much I can do in terms of physical preparation, psychological and tactical. I don't want to come across as someone trying to make excuses. It's a fact," he stated.