New Delhi [India], June 9 (ANI): India football captain Sunil Chhetri on Wednesday said that his side has been hot and cold in the FIFA World Cup 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 qualifiers, and he addressed the need for playing consistently at the same level.
Chhetri had added another feather to his illustrious cap as he overtook Messi to become the second-highest active international goalscorer on Monday. He achieved the feat when he struck a brace to help India defeat Bangladesh 2-0 at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium at Al Sadd Club in Doha.
"Even if we win the last match against Afghanistan, I don't think we can call the campaign a success. I look back at the matches against Bangladesh in Kolkata, Oman in Guwahati and Afghanistan away (in Dushanbe), where we did not play well. We have been hot and cold, and that's what bothers me. We need to continue playing at the same level," said Chhetri in an official release issued by the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
India will next lock horns against Afghanistan in the Qualifiers on June 15. The side is already out of contention to qualify for FIFA World Cup 2022, but the Blue Tigers can still qualify for AFC Asian Cup. Chhetri highlighted how head coach Igor Stimac has given chances to a number of players in the last two years.
"It is difficult to transition, play a certain way, face higher-ranked teams and also get results. We want to be in sync with the coach and what he wants from us, and deliver upon it. That's all we can do. Results haven't been ideal but we must look at the silver linings," said Chhetri.
"The coach is not afraid of giving chances to players. If he sees someone who is good, he will always give the boy a chance. No player can say that I didn't get a chance, which is a good thing. Both the coach and players are looking to make a base of the first 14. No coach likes to change his team every time and he is on the lookout for making his first 14. The players also have to help out and once it clicks, it will be more stable," he added.
The 36-year-old, who made his Blue Tigers debut in 2005 against Pakistan, also briefed how he guides the youngsters in the team on how to focus on oneself and the importance of being fit and taking care of one's body.
"I advise youngsters to think about what you can do and not think about what others are saying. I learnt this early in my life -- if you are more focused and thinking about yourself, you won't get time to worry about what others are saying and thinking," said Chhetri. (ANI)