Sunil Chhetri: Hope we fare well in the friendlies against UAE, Oman

The 36-year-old striker said he is happy to see resumption of sports in general after the sudden disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sunil Chhetri is set to miss the two friendlies in Dubai on March 25 and March 29 after he tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month.   -  FILE PHOTO/K. MURALI KUMAR

Bitterly disappointed to miss upcoming international friendlies against Oman and UAE as he recovers from COVID-19, India football captain Sunil Chhetri is hopeful that his team-mates will give a good account of themselves against the two tough Asian sides.

The Bengaluru FC skipper is set to miss the two friendlies in Dubai on March 25 (UAE) and 29 (Oman) after he tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month.

"...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," he told the All India Football Federation's official website.

"That said I am both excited and grateful about the two friendlies which the Blue Tigers will play this month against some quality opposition which only betters the anticipation. Unfortunately, I won't be able to be a part of it," he added.

Chhetri said getting to play against the regional powerhouses is a great opportunity for the team.

"It pleases me more than I can tell. I've always been thinking 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," he said.

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"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.

The 36-year-old striker said he is happy to see resumption of sports in general after the sudden disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"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. You can only imagine how difficult it must have been to put together the Hero ISL, the Hero 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," he said.

Chhetri said the just-concluded Indian Super League threw up a lot of young talent which Indian football can be proud of.

"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," he said.

"There is a lot of promise and I am certain we will do well to harness it."