SAFF Championship

Sunil Chhetri: Indian captain speaks about his contribution to team India ahead of SAFF semifinals

Sunil Chhetri, the Indian legend and captain has spoken about his future and his contribution to the Indian National Football team as he speaks in the press conference ahead of SAFF Cup semifinals against Lebanon. He spoke about his decision when he will stop playing for the country along with several other points.

A crucial fixture

India came to the semifinal on the back of a superb group stage performance where they mauled Pakistan 4-0 and went on to defeat sturdy Nepal 2-0, before settling for a stalemate against group leaders Kuwait which forced them for a second place-finish, thus facing Lebanon in the last four clash on Saturday. Indian legend Chhetri is leading the goal scoring charts as he had scored a hattrick in the first game against arch rivals Pakistan.

While speaking about the game and the Lebanese players, India captain and assistant coach Mahesh Gawli were heard saying, “Lebanon is a good side. We are prepared for the fight and the boys are motivated, committed, focused, and we will continue the same attitude which we showed in previous matches. It will be a tough match for us because we know they are playing good here. There (Odisha) they had weather issues but it will be a different match. They are an attacking side, and play very well. They have a number 7 (Hassan Maatouk) who is very talented.

Speaking along with his superior, Chhetri added, “We know quite a lot about Lebanon because we have already played them twice and have also seen them play and I’m pretty sure they have the same feeling about us. Trying to stay calm, we did our best to recuperate after so many games in such a short time and we are ready for the challenge.”

“Do not miss out”

Speaking about the home support which India has received till now, exultant Sunil was heard saying, ” I expect nothing less. We have been treated to some outstanding support in the last three games, and I’m pretty sure that Bangalore is going to turn up again in the semi-finals, for many reasons, one, of course, we all love football here but also because it is going to be a very good game.

He further added, “Also this year we were fortunate in a way that we got two different teams who are not a part of the South region and definitely a level higher. So it is not every day that you get to play against these teams. If you need any added motivation, one it is the semi-final, second it is Bangalore, it is luscious, nice and I’m pretty sure they also want a piece of us back because of what happened in the last two games. So all in all, proper entertainment on your plate, so do not miss out. Anyone who is thinking of not coming, make sure that you turn up.”

On the current contingent

India has grown a lot under Igor Stimac in the last few years. They have risen up the FIFA rankings and have strengthened their position on the 100th position and have clinched the Hero Intercontinental Cup few days back. Speaking on the current Indian fighting contingent, Sunil said, “I think we are gelling well now. I think that’s what one and a half months of preparation does. A lot of boys, usual suspects who have done really well in the last year, have carried their form, and then being together one and a half months has really helped. But we have talked about this day in, day out, let’s not get carried away. Where we want to go, what we have in the next six months is massive. It’s a huge journey.”

On his thoughts about his remaining days flaunting the Indian jersey

Sunil Chhetri will go down in history as one of the best attackers in the history of India. Currently on the third position on the highest goal scoring list on an international level, he has been competing with the likes of contemporary greats like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. When asked about how longer he intends to don the Blues jersey, he came up with a witty and diplomatic response. He replied, “I have no idea when my last game for the country is going to be and I’ll be very honest, and it is derived from the fact that I’ve never had long-term targets. I’ll only think about the next 10 days, next match, next training. There will come a day where I probably will not want to because of a lot of other things and I’ll be done.”

He continued, “It has never crossed my mind. Generally there are a few parameters that I think about whether I am contributing to the team or not. The day I start seeing that it’s not there, I am done. Because there aren’t many other motivations left for me to play. One is the fact that I love football, and second, you don’t get an opportunity to play for the country. Only these two are left. So the day the petrol is finished, I am done.”

Every single Indian football fan will hope that this day should not come so early as Sunil would like to lead the team to a much-awaited World up appearance in the near future.

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