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Coach angry as Iran deny India chance to train at main stadium

Stephen Constantine

Tehran : India’s national football team coach Stephen Constantine expressed his displeasure at the Iran Football Federation not extending the courtesy of letting the visiting team train at the main stadium ahead of the FIFA World Cup qualifier on Thursday.

The minnows landed in the Iranian capital yesterday evening for their penultimate match against the Asian heavyweights. India are currently last in their group and will have one home match against Turkmenistan on March 29 left after the Iran game.

However Constantine’s boys have not been provided with an opportunity to train at the Azadi Stadium, where the match is supposed to be held.

“When Iran came over to Bengaluru, we allowed them to train at the match venue for two days expecting that we would receive the same treatment. When you extend courtesies, you would always like to be repaid, no matter what,” a dejected Constantine told aiff.com.

“But to our surprise we are being denied to train at the match venue (the Azadi Stadium) for two days. It was understandable that we would also be training at the match venue for two days simply because we had allowed the Iranian National Team to train at the venue for two days,” the disappointment was palpable in his voice.

Iran comfortably thrashed India 3-0 in the Bengaluru leg and are likely to double the scoreline in familiar home conditions which can be adverse for the visitors considering it is cold.

Also the fact that they will be missing their star striker Sunil Chhteri. Goalkeeper Gurpreet Sandhu has joined the squad directly in Tehran from Norway, where he plays club football.

“Yeah, the temperatures here are much cooler than what we had in Delhi. We need to settle down fast,” Constantine said.

While being denied a chance to train on the main turf left a sour taste, the Indian contingent is happy with the other arrangements.

“We were received well at the Airport and the transfer to the Team Hotel was smooth. My Assistant Coach (Lee Johnson) came here in advance and sorted everything out. The Hotel is a decent one and we look forward to our sessions and the match.”

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