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Sunil Chhetri: It would be nice to bring national team football to these fans

Sunil Chhetri

Sunil Chhetri

India captain Sunil Chhetri can do no wrong at the moment. Having scored ten goals in all club competitions this season so far, he is the joint-top goalscorer in the Airtel I-League at the moment.

The 2013 AIFF Player of the Year, who is also India’s all time highest goalscorer in international football, spoke to AIFF Media on the ongoing Federation Cup, his form, Bengaluru FC, his experience in Manjeri and much more.


You just can’t stop scoring at the moment? Is this the best phase of your club career?
This phase has only just begun but yes, it is special. This team is trying to do things in a different way. It’s a young bunch and is loaded with potential. It’s always nice to play around boys like these. All I can say is I am enjoying myself to the fullest at the moment.

The group is now wide open in the Federation Cup. How much do you fancy your chances?
It was always bound to be tough given that our pool was branded the ‘Group of Death’. Anyone has a chance going into the last round and that’s football for you. We have a task and we are working hard to carry it out the way we have to. We aren’t thinking about possibilities and combinations.

East Bengal have been a thorn for Bengaluru FC so far. Will that fact be bringing about any psychological disadvantage as you prepare for that all important tie?
Not really. It’s all about those 90 minutes on the day. We won’t be going back to see their record over us or anything like that. We are a young but capable side and we have proved it often.

A word on Rino Anto and Beikhokhei who were brilliant against Sporting. How do you rate them?
They are giving ample demonstration of their talent. Rino has been solid in his position, bombing forward on attack and retracting when he’s needed behind. His crosses are fantastic. As for Beikho, he’s got a big number of assists and is even scoring now.

You seem to have hit a purple patch ever since you joined Bengaluru FC. What’s the secret behind this?
There’s no secret. We have a coach and coaching staff that has come to this club with a work ethic I haven’t seen at any club before. They give in their 100% and expect the team to reciprocate. The team is very tightly knit. We live together, eat together and hang out together. All that just translates on the pitch. Our owners, the Jindal family, have supported the club in a big way and it’s always nice for a player to see and feel it.

At one end there is East Bengal who are still in with an outside chance having only one point, and there are also teams like Mohammedan Sporting and Mohun Bagan who are still not safe is spite of winning their two. How do you describe that?
Cup competitions are always like that. You can never tell who will turn up with a shock result on the day. You can never take anything for granted in football.

How has your experience been playing in the newly laid MDSC Stadium?
The crowd has been brilliant. You see people enjoying good football, cheering for both teams, sitting for two games on the trot – it’s all so encouraging. The stadium has a beautiful setting and it would be nice to bring national team football to fans like these.