Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri is highly impressed with the country’s U-16 and U-20 sides, who have punched above their weight in recent times, and said they are capable of achieving bigger things in the future.
While the U-16 team shocked Iraq, the U-20 squad caused a huge upset by stunning the sport’s superpower Argentina in the COTIF tournament in Spain.
Asked about the players representing the youth teams, Chhetri said, “U-16 team in totality (has impressed me), of course the U-19 teams is also doing well, (the U-20 side got a) great result against Argentina, something they should be really proud of.
“But the U-16 team is amazing, you should watch them play. We watched some videos of them, some game plans and they are amazing. (Coach) Bibiano (Fernandes) is doing a great job with those kids and I just hope, touch wood, they can keep improving from what they are.
“I am pretty sure they are going to achieve bigger things in the coming years.
India’s all-time highest scorer, who is also among the top five active scorers in international football, said he is looking forward to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
“The aim is 2019 Asian Cup and before that we have got a couple of (international friendly) matches which we will try our best to win and improve and eventually to the Asian Cup. The players are going to give everything they have got when the tournament comes,” the 34-year-old striker said.
Chhetri is now gearing up to lead his team Bengaluru FC in the upcoming Indian Super League.
“ISL is one of the main reasons why a lot of good things are happening in Indian football, helping the rise of Indian football, just the whole atmosphere, infrastructure change.
“But I will again say that it’s one of the major things we are doing good, but we all have to come together, if Indian football has to grow every avenue of Indian football will have to come together and do their bit.”
Having entered the final as one of the most consistent sides last season, Bengaluru lost to Chennaiyin FC in the summit showdown.
“The fact that every team wants to beat us, the fact that every team wants to come and take point against us is our biggest challenge. Last year, we saw some mediocre performances of other teams but when they came and played against us they looked a different team,” Chhetri said.
The ISL will be broadcast live on Star Sports .