Sunil Chhetri wants more games ahead of World Cup qualifiers

In the build-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifiers campaign, Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri hopes the side would get enough preparatory matches.

Sunil Chhetri during his visit to the Zinc Football Academy in Udaipur.   -  Special Arrangement

Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri said he hoped the side would get enough preparatory matches ahead of its 2022 FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifiers campaign.

The Indian team, drawn alongside 2022 FIFA World Cup host Qatar, Oman, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh in Group E, will begin its chase for a FIFA World Cup berth when it hosts Oman in the second round of Asian Qualifiers on September 5.

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When asked about the "interesting group" by this reporter, Chhetri quipped: “I like the word interesting, man. Thank God. People use the word easy sometimes! It is interesting and I'm really looking forward to it. It's a good group. The only thing is I just hope we get some training matches before the tournament starts.”

Sunil Chhetri with the players of Zinc Football Academy in Udaipur.   -  Special Arrangement

 

He added: “I heard that the Super Cup is not going to happen. So it's just 10-15 days of our preparation and the tournament starts. We have two tough games – Oman at home and Qatar away. I hope the boys come injury-free and we'll put up a good fight.” Chhetri spoke to the media during his visit to the Zinc Football Academy in Udaipur on Saturday.

The Indian team has been undergoing a period of transition since coach Igor Stimac's arrival in May. The Croatian has inculcated a more refreshing build-up based, passing-oriented game, and has tried multiple combinations on the pitch. However, the team hasn't enjoyed great success and was ousted from the King's Cup and the Intercontinental Cup. Chhetri, though, is unperturbed.

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“The way we play is completely different now. You've seen it in the last two tournaments. We didn't do well because a lot of payers were injured and also because he (Stimac) was trying new things. His philosophy and what he wants is quite clear. He's very knowledgeable and is somebody who really wants to change things. All the boys love him, so I think we all want to rally with him and give our best,” he said.

“The way we build-up is different. He wants us to build from behind, he wants us to pass the ball and you've seen it. The likes of Sahal (Abdul Samad), Udanta (Singh) and Anirudh (Thapa) are flourishing under him. I like this kind of game because in my club (Bengaluru FC) also we play like this. The Spanish players play the same,” he added.

When asked if he personally advocated this style of football, he said: “I don't know, man. I'll play in any way. I just want to win. You tell me a way to win and I'll do that.”

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