India football captain Sunil Chhetri has made a clarion call to his team-mates to pull up their socks and produce an improved performance in the team’s crunch World Cup qualifying round match against Afghanistan on Thursday.
India are placed in the fourth place in Group E, with two points following draws against Asian champions Qatar and lower-ranked Bangladesh, who were on the verge of running away with the match before the home side’s late equaliser in Kolkata on October 15.
India next face Afghanistan in a crucial match on Thursday at Tajikistan capital of Dushanbe. The war-ravaged Afghanistan chose Dushanbe as their home venue for the second round qualifiers of the World Cup.
“We are creating chances. But that is not enough. We have to try our best to convert them and try to be a tougher unit while defending. We have missed against Bangladesh and we need to pull up our socks against Afghanistan,” Chhetri said after a short training stint at the Dubai Sports City.
“At the end of the day, if we can do better on the pitch, we’ll be happier, Chhetri mentioned,” he added.
The team will leave for the Tajikistan later in the day. They will reach Dushanbe — which has no direct flight from any Indian city — on Wednesday, just a day before the match.
“We have a steep task in Dushanbe and we have to overcome that. Winning against Afghanistan is the only thing that is going on in our mind now. It will not come to us, rather we need to go and snatch it. It’s always about us and our performance to achieve something,” the Croatian said.
Meanwhile, defender Subhasish Bose said, “Maintaining clean sheets will be of paramount importance in order to stay alive in the race of the World Cup Qualifiers. We will need to be sharper in the absence of Sandesh-bhai (Jhingan).
“The team is upbeat. We will leave no stone unturned to make the most out of the remaining games. We were able to do the same against Qatar. If we play to our true potential, there’s no reason not to repeat it against Afghanistan and Oman again,” he added.