Mumbai, Nov 4 (IANS) Having lost all their qualifying matches for the 2018 FIFA World Cup so far, India football team captain Sunil Chhetri has made it clear that there is no room for error and the side must ensure victory in their second leg clash against Guam in Bengaluru on November 12.
With 167th ranked India rooted to the bottom of the table in Group D having lost all their five matches, Chhetri pointed out that India’s qualification for the 2019 Asian Cup is also at stake. Apart from India and Guam, Iran, Oman and Turkmenistan are the other teams in the five-nation group. Oman leads the group with 11 points from five games. India had lost 1-2 away to 150th ranked Guam in the first leg.
“I am currently thinking about nothing but the Guam match. I really want to win the match, eagerly waiting; we will give it all to win it. It has been tough tournament for us. Be played well a few matches but the results didn’t not go our way. This is the match we have to win at any cause,” Chhetri told IANS in an interview here.
India head coach Stephen Constantine has announced a 25-member squad for the forthcoming match against Guam scheduled to take place on November 8. “This is important because the Asian qualification is also on stake. At home in Bangalore we really fancy ourselves. I hope everyone comes in the camp, whoever comes to the camp comes injury free. So we can train hard as a team and train well and give a good performance,” he said.
The 31-year-old, who has scored 50 goals at the international level, backed Constantine’s performance as coach, stating that with several young players in the national squad, he should be given time to find the right combination. “It’s a new team and a young team. Ideally we should get good time to prepare ourselves but we have to go with whatever we have and not give excuses and we are prepared for that,” the Bengaluru FC striker said.
“I think Stephen is a hard working guy and he is doing what is possible for him to do. I think it requires time when you have a young side and as far as I am concerned as a player and as a captain, I have to go and give whatever I have, whoever the coach is I have to go there on the field and give my best for the side. I am not someone who will decide on the coaches.”
The four-time All India Football Federation (AIFF) Player of the Year was picked by Indian Super League (ISL) side Mumbai City FC in the Indian players’ auction and is currently the leading scorer in the second edition of the tournament with six goals. He scored a hat-trick against NorthEast United FC recently. Speaking about his current form, the star striker, said, “I am happy to score for my team in the ISL. Last match we were thrashed (Atletico de Kolkata beat Mumbai 4-1). It’s unfortunate. I think we have got to winning and take the team ahead and I think winning is the most important thing. We were so happy to get those nine points. ISL is so tightly contested that if you lose one match you go down and if you win one you climb higher and higher.”
Commenting on the upcoming ISL away match against Delhi Dynamos on November 6, the Arjuna Award winner said, “It will be a good match and I hope we come back to winning ways and I would like to contribute more for the team.” The former Mohun Bagan forward believes that the standard of the second season of the ISL is better than the inaugural edition.
“I hear a lot of good things from people. I did not play last season. I have watched ISL 1, although not all the matches. The players who I am playing with and other people are telling me that the level has improved and the tempo have improved to great extent,” Chhetri concluded. (Aritra Chowdhury can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)