India football captain Sunil Chhetri wants to give his best for the national team in whatever he’s got left in him. Chhetri, 35, has been the face of Indian football for close to a decade and with 72 goals from 115 matches, is the country’s all-time leading goal-scorer.
In fact, Chhetri is only behind Cristiano Ronaldo on the list of active international scorers in world football and as he admits that time is running out as he enters the new year and he tries to guide the team to the 2023 Asian Cup in China.
“I understand that I don’t have many games left to play for my nation. There’s no point in jumping the gun. Hence, personally I want to take one game at a time,” Chhetri said.
“I need to work harder now,” Chhetri said. “As a team, we need to win as many games as possible. The eventual aim is to qualify for AFC Asian Cup China 2023. We need to be consistently qualifying for the continental championships 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.”
In November, the Indian football team were virtually knocked out for 2022 World Cup qualifying round after a 0-1 loss to Oman – it was their second defeat to Oman having lost 1-2 to them in the first round in September – and slipped to fourth in Group E of the tournament.
The Indian team is, however, still in the hunt for a third-round berth for the 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers, and will face Qatar on March 26. With some quality players in the side, Chhetri reckons there is no reason why India cannot win the fixture, less than three months from now.
“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,” said Chhetri.
“At Bengaluru FC 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,” Chhetri said of his ambitions with the club.”