Watch: Sunil Chhetri achieves monumental feat with stunning goal against Kuwait at SAFF Championship 2023
Sunil Chhetri is closing in on Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo on the iconic list of all-time international goal scorers in men’s football.
Extending his goal-scoring run for the Blue Tigers in their crucial Group A match of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship on Tuesday, India captain Sunil Chhetri netted his 92nd international goal to put the hosts ahead of the visitors at Sree Kanteerava Stadium. Chhetri, who is the all-time leading goal-getter for India in men's football, also achieved a monumental feat by scoring his fifth goal in the elite tournament.
Chhetri opened the scoring for India moments before the end of the first half. The India captain netted the first goal of the contest through a set-piece from teammate Anirudh Thapa. Cashing in on Thapa's corner kick in the 46th minute (45+2) of the game, the veteran forward came up with a side volley to put India ahead of the visitors at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.
Chhetri rewrites SAFF history in India's Group A decider
Chhetri's opener was also his 24th goal at the SAFF Championship, making him the all-time leading goalscorer of the celebrated tournament. Chhetri has surpassed Ali Ashfaq to become the all-time goal-getter in the history of the SAFF Championship. The Indian captain is closing in on Lionel Messi (103) and Cristiano Ronaldo (123) on the list of all-time international goal scorers in men’s football. Chhetri is only behind Ronaldo, Messi and Ali Daei (109) on the elite list. The star striker has scored seven goals in his last seven appearances for Team India. The 38-year-old managed to find the back of the net in India's comfortable win over Nepal.
Earlier, Chhetri had kickstarted India's SAFF Championship campaign with a memorable hat-trick against arch-rivals Pakistan. Ranked 143 in the FIFA rankings, Kuwait only needed a draw against India to top Group A at the SAFF Championship. The visitors picked six points from their last two matches to secure their berth into the semi-finals of the tournament. Kuwait defeated Nepal 3-1 before hammering Pakistan 4-0 in the group stage of the SAFF Championship. India conceded a late goal after Chhetri's departure as Kuwait played out a 1-1 draw with the hosts to top Group A in the SAFF Championship.