A bone contusion in his right leg has temporarily kept Sunil Chhetri out of football, making him more than eager for a run out in India's AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers later this month. It was winning this tournament in 2008 --- Chhetri scoring a hat-trick in the final against Tajikistan at New Delhi's Ambedkar Stadium --- which gave India the passport to the Asian Cup main round after 28 years.
"Not that you ever need any motivation to wear the India shirt but, yes, we would like to play in Australia (the next Asian Cup finals) in 2015 and this is the first step to getting there. Also the outcome of playing Pakistan anywhere in any sport is crucial," said the India striker on Friday.
Chhetri was advised rest for two weeks after the injury in Kohlapur while playing for Chirag United against Air India on February 27. He hopes to start training with the national probables on Wednesday. India leave for Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday night, three days before the qualifiers start in Kuala Lumpur. India are grouped with Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Chinese Taipei with two teams going through to the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup finals.