India striker Sunil Chhetri feels the outcome of Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against the United Arab Emirates in Al Ain could have been different had they not lost two key players in goalkeeper Subrata Pal and defender Debabrata Roy. As a result of the suspensions, India had to play with nine men for almost 75 minutes.
“We are not as bad a team as people make us out to be. It is surprising when you play nine men and do not concede more than one goal,” said the 26-year-old in a media briefing here on Tuesday.
“We were really pumped up after beating Qatar (2-1 on July 17) and the one month camp. I really think if it was 11 against 11, things would have been different.”
They ultimately lost 0-3 to the UAE.
At ease ahead of return leg
Ahead of the return leg on Thursday, the visitors seem to be at ease. “We have a 3-0 advantage so we are not too worried ahead of Thursday’s match.
The pressure will be entirely on India,” said UAE team manager Ismail Rashid who added that the Gulf nation would be fielding a largely unchanged lineup. There are no injuries that the squad has to worry about either.
“It will be tough to beat UAE but the important thing is not to think about what has happened in UAE but to think Thursday’s match as a fresh game,” said Chhetri.
“Playing at home is always beneficial. We have won three tournaments in the last three years here and we are confident ahead of this home leg.”