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Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

Sunil Chhetri wary but confident ahead of Asian Cup qualifier against Kyrgyzstan

A win for the Indian football team will extend their unbeaten run to eight and Sunil Chhetri believes that the team is at a sound position to qualify for the Asian Cup.

football Updated: Jun 11, 2017 21:23 IST
Sarthak Bal
Sarthak Bal
Indian national football team captain Sunil Chhetri during a practice session in Mumbai.
Indian national football team captain Sunil Chhetri during a practice session in Mumbai.(PTI)

India face-off against Kyrgyz Republic on June 13 in an AFC Asian Cup qualifier and Indian skipper Sunil Chhetri is confident of India’s chances at home.

“The game next week is going to be a hurdle. They are the favourties in the group but at home I fancy our selves against anyone, especially at the Kanteerava Stadium (Bangalore). Three points from the game is going to gives us a big boost, personally, and in terms of qualifying,” said Chhetri.

A win for the Blue Tigers will extend their unbeaten run to eight and India’s highest goal-getter believes that the team is at a sound position to qualify for the Asian Cup.

READ | Sunil Chhetri calls for increase in number of clubs to boost player employment

“I am confident of qualification. We have done well; wins give you a lot of confidence. I don’t want to be complacent but we have won games. I think we are there,” said Chhetri.

“The more you win the bigger you become, it doesn’t matter what talent you have. We are such a happy dressing room and if we keep winning games the better we (will) become as a unit,” he added.

Kyrgyz Republic are placed 132 on the rankings while the Indian team sits at 100 on the FIFA rankings. Chhetri believes that a team’s rank has no bearing on their performance or threat they pose to any opposition.

“The good thing in the camp is that we analyse their (opponents) strengths and weaknesses, not judge them by their ranking. Our video sessions for the Kyrgyz game will begin tomorrow (Friday). I honestly don’t know what rank they sit at. It doesn’t matter,” said the Bengaluru FC talisman.

The former Kansas City front man also heaped praise on the 2016 Player of the Year winner, Jeje Lalpekhlua, who has scored seven goals in the last nine games for the national side.

READ | Jeje Lalpekhlua wins AIFF player of year award

“Jeje has been outstanding for the country. When he’s on the pitch we are comfortable. You don’t have answers then put the ball to Jeje. I pray he keeps up his form because he will take this team places,” said Chhetri.

Chhetri spoke confidently for the team citing the landmark shift (of touching 100 in rankings) as joyful but not as the eventual objective of the national side.

“Speaking on behalf of the whole team, reaching 100th rank makes us happy. But we don’t take it very, very seriously. The win against Myanmar away was big, beating Puerto Rico in Mumbai was great and winning the SAFF Cup with a young team was vital, but we can’t sit back and be content with what we have achieved.”

“We are happy with our rank but must continue to keep our head down and push ourselves further. If after three years we are sitting at 100, I will be very happy,” he said.

First Published: Jun 09, 2017 20:13 IST

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