India football captain Sunil Chhetri feels that the national side is better prepared for the AFC Asian Cup tournament next year.

Comparing the Indian team’s preparedness for the Asian Cup in 2011 and 2019, Chhetri said, “In 2011, we didn’t know what to expect. This time we are much more prepared. We are in a tough group. The youngsters are up for it.”

India is clubbed with host UAE, Thailand and Bahrain in Group A of the Asian Cup.

“It’s about making sure that you defend well, be more compact and making sure that you don't give many chances to the opponents. At the end of the day, how we play depends on the coach,” said Chhetri, who received the Best Sportsperson of the Year award at the Calcutta Sports Journalists’ Club (CSJC) Awards function here on Thursday.

The 34-year-old said he would not be participating in the SAFF Championship to be held in Bangladesh next month.

“I was fortunate to play SAFF three or four times. I am not declaring anything right now but I had a chat with the coach and he said he wants to bring a lot of junior players which I think is a very good thing.

“It’s not trying to demean the other teams in the SAFF region. I think even with the U-23 team, we are very strong in the SAFF region.”

Chhetri thanked CSJC for the award. “I have played for 16 years now. I have played here (for East Bengal and Mohun Bagan), but this is my first award in Kolkata. It feels very special,” he said.