Can only better ourselves in Asia by playing against tough opponents, says Chhetri

ANI
·3-min read
Striker Sunil Chhetri (file image)
Striker Sunil Chhetri (file image)

New Delhi [India], March 22 (ANI): India striker Sunil Chhetri rues the fact that he won't be able to be a part of the forthcoming international friendlies owing to medical reasons. But Chhetri can't hide his excitement at the Blue Tigers getting a chance to play against exceptionally strong opponents like Oman and UAE in the March FIFA window.

Chhetri who has 72 international goals to his name says that the Indian team needs to make the most of the chance of getting back to international football and he also feels one shouldn't go around labelling the youngsters with tags that end up becoming burdens.

"Most definitely. To lose out on international football for an entire year was such a big disappointment. But these are unprecedented times and they aren't in our control. So, we have little to complain about. That said -- I am both excited and grateful about the two friendlies which the Blue Tigers will play this month -- and against some quality opposition which only betters the anticipation. Unfortunately, I won't be able to be a part of it," AIFF's official website quoted Chhetri as saying.

"It pleases me more than I can tell. I've always been on about how we need to better ourselves in Asia and that can happen only when we come up against top opponents. Oman and UAE most certainly fit that bill. When I first heard of the possible opponents, I was extremely excited even though it was just a possibility! I hope we, as a team, make the most of this chance, give a good account of ourselves, and most importantly, learn from the experience," he added.

Further talking about the growth of Indian football, Chhetri said: "Like I said -- these are unprecedented times, but despite the circumstances, the fact that we have managed to get so much football in, is commendable. We (Bengaluru FC) were in a bio-bubble for five months and trust me, it was difficult. You can only imagine how difficult it must have been to put together the ISL, the I-League, and every other competition. There are countries where football has come to a complete standstill. So to be able to keep it going is something we should all be grateful for."

Talking about the recently-concluded Indian Super League, Chhetri said: "It's definitely been an ISL season for the youngsters. There were no illusions about how tough and competitive the season would be -- and to see so many unheralded names step up and consistently perform well for their teams was very encouraging. What is critical though is that we don't go around labelling the youngsters with tags that end up becoming burdens. There is a lot of promise and I am certain we will do well to harness it."

India's senior side is preparing for upcoming international friendlies against Oman and the UAE. While the match against Oman is scheduled for March 25, the match against the UAE is slated for March 29. (ANI)