Lack of friendlies hurting us: India skipper Sunil Chhetri | sports | Hindustan Times
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Lack of friendlies hurting us: India skipper Sunil Chhetri

sports Updated: Jan 03, 2015 05:05 IST
Kushal Phatarpekar
Sunil Chhetri

The frustration of watching something wither away isn't the most comfortable position for a leader to be in. For India captain Sunil Chhetri, the past one year has been on similar lines. In the latest Fifa rankings, India have slid to 171, their lowest ever, and Chhetri feels the drop is a direct result of not playing enough friendlies in 2014.

"This team has hardly spent time together. While other teams around the country play 12-13 friendly ties each year, we have not done that," Chhetri told HT on the sidelines of the Federation Cup.

"We need to utilise every international friendly window possible. However, our calendar is not in tune with the friendly calendar around the world," he lamented.

"Winning and losing comes later, but if you don't even get enough matches, to play then is a big concern. I feel we as a country are capable of formulating a calendar where our national team can utilise every window available to come together and play," said Chhetri.

India began the year at 156th but slipped 15 places to 171st. In the ensuing months, they played just two international friendlies, drawing 2-2 against Bangladesh and losing 2-3 to Palestine. India also missed out on a window for a friendly during the just-concluded Indian Super League (ISL), which began in October.

Chhetri remains optimistic about the future. "I hope we as a nation understand and adapt to the requirements. I am hopeful that the new coach can bring in a change. If provided with more matches, we can build the team well," he said.