Indian Football

Sunil Chhetri Reveals Next Step for Indian Football

Mudeet Arora
Sunil Chhetri has spoken up after his brace against Bangladesh
Sunil Chhetri has spoken up after his brace against Bangladesh / DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/Getty Images

Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri believes that the next step in the development and evolution of the squad is to keep the ball and pass better going forward.

Chhetri scored a brace as India beat Bangladesh 2-0 in their World Cup and Asian Cup joint qualifying game in Doha this week.

The Blue Tigers' skipper spoke to the media and was asked what should be the next step for his team.

As reported by the Indian Super League's official website, Chhetri revealed the next step, "To be a little bit move brave with the ball. I think we understand defending, we understand diet, everyone in the team is aware of how to take care of their bodies and everyone is really physically fit."

He added, "…A lot of people in the country didn’t like the fact that we couldn’t keep the ball [in a 1-0 defeat to Qatar prior to the Bangladesh game] and it is healthy criticism. We have got to be braver to keep the ball. It will come with more matches though …It’s not about trying to keep 30-40 passes and try to play like Barcelona. Not many teams in the world can do it, but [India need to be] a little bit more brave, [stitch] 4-5 passes and make an organised move."

Sunil Chhetri moves to second in active international goalscorers list as he scores a brace in the win against...

Posted by 90min on Monday, June 7, 2021

With their win against Bangladesh, India moved to third position in Group E, ahead of Afghanistan, who they face on June 15.

On being asked if he would consider India's qualification campaign a success if India beat the Afghans, Chhetri replied, "I wouldn’t be able to say that. Because it reminds me what we did against Bangladesh at home [1-1 draw], what we did against Afghanistan away [1-1 draw], it reminds me that we couldn’t hold down Oman seven-eight minutes more in one of the best games we played [Oman scored twice in last eight minutes to win 2-1]. Even if we win against Afghanistan, the fact is we blew hot and cold in these qualifiers. That’s what bothers me and the whole team."

Chhetri was also asked about ISL's new rule, making it mandatory for all teams not to field more than four foreigners at any point of time. He replied, "From next season, there are four foreigners which will probably give a little bit more time to few of the other young strikers, which is good for them. Playing more matches and trying to work really, really hard are the only two mantras …After me there will be better players. That’s the way evolution works. If we keep getting players like me, we will be where we are. I want to see my country doing better."

Finally, after going two ahead of Lionel Messi in international goals, Chhetri spoke up on the comparison and concluded, "I am not annoyed with this comparison but my take on it is this: there is no comparison whatsoever with Messi or any player in that category. There are thousands of players better than me. People who understand football, they know it. I am proud of scoring 74 goals for my country. Till the last match I play, I will give my best."