Young talent, team’s consistency make Chhetri hopeful

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 15 Jan 2018 10:36:25



THE emergence of young talent under coach Stephen Constantine’s rotation policy and the Indian football team’s consistency in recent times make skipper Sunil Chhetri hopeful of a smooth build-up to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
“We have been consistent and have a fairly impressive phase, but we need to keep challenging ourselves,” Chhetri said during a chat.
India qualified for the Asian Cup by beating Macau in the qualifiers last October.

“A lot of youngsters have got their chances and it’s nice to see so many of them wanting to make the most of it. It isn’t my place to pick individuals out. We’ve all got to keep our heads down and work hard,” the country’s all-time highest scorer said.

The last time India played in the continental tournament was in 2011, when they were knocked out in the first round after being thrashed by much-superior South Korea, Australia and Bahrain.

Chhetri, though, managed to score a couple of goals in India’s disastrous showing. The 33-year-old striker feels playing a lot of matches would be an ideal build-up for the tournament taking place in the UAE.
“We need to get in as many games as possible as a unit in the build-up to the tournament.

“I am certain the coach and the federation have plans chalked out for how they want us to approach the Asian Cup.”
Chhetri is particularly keen on playing more away games, to ensure that the 2011 disaster is not repeated.
He is currently playing for Bengaluru FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) and asked about the team’s impressive run in its debut season, a modest Chhetri simply attributed it to hard work.