At 35, Sunil Chhetri knows he does not have”many” games left for the national team, hence in the turn of the new year, the talisman Indian football team captain would like to work even harder on his game as he tries to guide the team to the 2023 Asian Cup in China.
“I understand that I don’t have lots of games left to play for my nation,” Chhetri said on Friday.
“There’s no point in jumping the gun. Hence, personally I wish to take one match at a time,” said Chhetri who’s second only to Cristiano Ronaldo on the list of active foreign scorers in world football.
“I need to work harder now,” he quipped when pushed about Stimac’s remark.
“As a team, we need to win as many games as you can. The eventual aim is to qualify for AFC Asian Cup China 2023.
“The belief in the squad is unmistakable. There’s no reason why we can not be in China,” he added.
India are currently on three points from five games in the World Cup qualifiers and are slated to play Asian champions Qatar – whom they held to a goalless draw in Guwahati – at home on March 26 next.
“I am so proud that at my club we have 5-6 players playing for the country. It would be great if we could add to that number. There is so much talent among the young lads. It’s important we continue doing what we are doing. Above all we can never get stagnant or complacent,” said Chhetri who plies his trade for Indian Super League (ISL) champions Bengaluru FC.
“At Bengaluru FC we’ve really done well domestically. We wish to continue on the trend domestically, and most certainly want to do well in Asia. There is an opportunity knocking at our doors this year also, and we will need to grab it,” Chhetri said of his ambitions with the club.
Chhetri, who has 72 goals to his name, confessed that he plans to be a better person than what he had been in 2019.
“Personally, there’s no stop to be a better human being. Little by little, not by making big promises, I need to be calmer, read more, spend more time with my nearest and dearest, and be more mindful about nature and the environment.
“There can be no stop to learn about different cultures by travelling to different places. And, whatever comes your way, keep the healthy eating habits.”