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Sunil Chhetri to be rested for India international friendly versus Nepal

Sunil Chhetri, who had suffered a hamstring injury, will be rested for the international friendly against Nepal.

football Updated: Jun 05, 2017 23:35 IST
Sunil Chhetri,India football team,Nepal football team
Sunil Chhetri will be rested for the international friendly against Nepal despite recovering from a hamstring injury.(AFP/Getty Images)

India will be without skipper Sunil Chhetri for a friendly against Nepal in Mumbai on Tuesday but that isn’t bothering coach Stephen Constantine at the moment.

The Englishman is resting Chhetri keeping in mind the important 2019 Asian Cup qualifying match against Kyrgyz Republic in Bangalore on June 13. India won the group opener against Myanmar 1-0.

Speaking on the eve of the match, Constantine said: “CK Vineeth, Udanta Singh are definitely out. With skipper Sunil we are taking a cautious approach and he will not play any part with Nepal. He has played quite a number of games of late and we would like to protect him. He is not 22 anymore.”

He added: “Sunil is a very good player and has been for a long time. I hope he has many more years to give for India. I would like Chhetri to be leading the team in the AFC Asian Cup in 2019, if we qualify. The day he hangs his boots, it will be huge loss for Indian Football.”

Ever since Constantine took over the reins of national team two and half years ago he has brought in many new faces and he expects others to step up in absence of key players. The match will also give him an opportunity to finalise his plans before the game against Kyrgyz Republic.

“I hope to get a win (against Nepal) and hope to get decent performances from players who will be trying to stake a claim to the starting XI against Kyrgyz Republic which is a very important game for us,” said Constantine.

India were to play Lebanon but because of the visa issues they couldn’t come. The Blue Tigers are on a six-match winning run and will look to continue that on Tuesday.

India were ranked 173 when he took over but Constantine is not resting on his laurels and say breaking into top-100 is just a number.

“Being at 100 is just a number. It doesn’t mean we are favourite or we have become a super team or we are going to the World Cup. The ranking are dependent on number of different variations. It’s not dependent on what we do but teams around us do, the number of games they play, the importance of the games and competition they play. AFC qualifier is far more important from a friendly or SAF Cup. We need to be in the big competitions (to move further),” he said.

First Published: Jun 05, 2017 23:34 IST