THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

Sunil Chhetri: There’s no reason why we can’t qualify to 2023 AFC Asian Cup

Indian national team captain Sunil Chhetri. (Photo courtesy: AIFF Media)
Indian national team captain Sunil Chhetri. Photo courtesy: AIFF Media

As the dawn of 2020 has settled down, iconic Indian national team striker Sunil Chhetri isn’t much willing to rush and set long term targets for himself.

“I understand that I don’t have many games left to play for my country,” he smiles. “There’s no point in jumping the gun. Hence, personally I want to take one game at a time,” he utters.

Chhetri, the second-highest goal-scorer in international football after Cristiano Ronaldo among all active footballers, was only the other day dubbed by national team coach Igor Stimac as “having the body of a 29-year old.”

Chhetri smiles again. “I need to work harder now,” he maintains.

“As a team, we need to win as many games as possible. The eventual aim is to qualify for AFC Asian Cup China 22023. We need to be consistently qualifying for the continental championship and there can be no compromise on that aspect.”

“The belief in the squad is unmistakable. There’s no reason why we can’t be in China,” he adds.

India are currently on 3 points from 5 matches in the joint FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 22023 Qualifiers and are next slated to play Qatar at home on March 26.

“I am so proud that at my club we have 5-6 players playing for the country. It would be great if we can add to that number. There’s so much talent among the young lads. It’s important we continue doing what we are doing. Most importantly we can never get stagnant or complacent,” he states.

“At BFC we have really done well domestically. We want to continue on the trend domestically, and most definitely want to do well in Asia. There’s an opportunity knocking at our doors this year too, and we need to grab it.”

Never someone to mince words, the man with 72 international goals admitted that he “aims to be a better person that what I was in 2019.”

“Personally, there’s no stop to be a better human being. Little by little, not by making big promises, I need to be calmer, read more, spend more time with my loved ones, and be more mindful about nature and environment.”

“There can never be any stop to learn about different cultures by travelling to different places,” he informs. “And whatever comes your way, continue the healthy eating habits.”

(AIFF Media)