India should play China more often, says Sunil Chhetri

The two teams play each other after 21 years in a friendly on Saturday.

The Indian team will be tested on all fronts, predicts Sunil Chhetri.   -  PTI

India captain Sunil Chhetri is looking forward to playing against a “quality opponent” in China as the two teams lock horns after 21 years in a friendly at Suzhou, China, on Saturday.

In an interview with AIFF, Chhetri assessed India’s chances in what he considers to be a “perfect challenge” to engage the team ahead of the AFC Asian Cup in 2019.

“To face them at their home is going to be a tough challenge but this is a challenge that we should face now. Our form away from home hasn’t been particularly very good. This is a great opportunity for us to take a good account of ourselves,” he said.

Improving standards

China, coached by Italian Marcelo Lippi, has improved its footballing standards of late, Chhetri observed. He said, “China are one of the Asian teams who are doing really great in football of late [sic]. The [Chinese Super League] has gone from strength to strength and the national team has benefitted from that under a respectable coach like Marcelo Lippi.”

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The players will be tested on all fronts, predicted Chhetri. “By the look and feel, I believe we have to do a lot of defending. We should not afford them much space. At the same time, whenever we find a little room of opportunity, we have to construct the moves and counter them. To sum it up, it’s a game where we must be at the top of our game in every single department. If we are not being able to combine well and operate as a team, then they will make us struggle a lot,” he said.

Chhetri expressed eagerness at taking the field. “I’m happy that I’m back to the team once again, that too for an away fixture. It’s very difficult but it’s something where I want to be,” he said.