I want to keep scoring for India till my last game: Sunil Chhetri | Football News


PANAJI: First things first. Sunil Chhetri is not going anywhere, not at least for the next few years. At 37, the India striker is not getting any younger, but judging from his two goals against Maldives on Wednesday night that took his international goal tally to 79 – two more than Pele’s and just one less than Lionel Messi’s – he’s not slowing down either.
There’s still a lot of work to do. For one, the captain wants to win the SAFF Championship on Saturday, and when 2023 comes, he wants to compete with the best at the Asian Cup in China.
“For at least a few years, Sunil Chhetri is not going anywhere,” the India captain said on Thursday. “The immediate goal is to qualify for the Asian Cup. This is something that is very close to my heart. I know our performances have not given the country a lot of hope, but that’s the bare minimum we should do. We must qualify for Asian Cup and rub shoulders with the best in Asia.”
Chhetri’s brace against Maldives in a must-win game for India on Wednesday took his count to 79. Ahead of him among active players are two of the greatest –Lionel Messi (80) and Cristiano Ronaldo (115).
Comparisons with the multiple Ballon d’Or winners are unfair, but nobody can ignore Chhetri’s longevity, consistency and the sheer number of goals that he continues to score. “As far as comparisons are concerned, everyone knows there is no comparison whatsoever,” Chhetri told TOI. “I am happy that I can score for my country. It makes the fans happy too. I will keep doing it till my last game. But there is nothing much (to the goals and comparisons). Ignore it.”
The Indian captain has scored in nine out of India’s last ten victories in all competitions. Manvir Singh was also on target against Maldives, scoring his first competitive goal in more than a dozen matches.
The contrast is evident, though it’s not entirely Manvir’s fault. “Manvir is a beast, talented and hungry. For every physical test — strength, stamina and speed – he’s in the top three. You see the fluctuation (in his game) because he plays as the fifth right-sided player for ATK Mohun Bagan. They play a different game and he has a different role. For the national team, there is a switch,” said Chhetri.
It’s not just Manvir that gives Chhetri hope for the future. In his own words, there’s Rahim Ali, Anirudh Thapa (‘if you talk of goals, I will put my money on him’) Liston Colaco and KP Rahul, though none of them are first-choice for their clubs.
So where is the one who is going to succeed him as India’s top striker? “That might not be enough,” he said. “We don’t need one Sunil Chhetri. We will need better players. Whatever we have now, we need to do better. Don’t worry, we will get better players than me. That’s the hope and I know we will get there and that is my dream.”
Carry on Sunil.





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