Captain Chhetri draws inspiration from FIFA WC semi-finalists Morocco after tough Asian Cup draw
India, ranked 101 in the latest FIFA rankings, will face a gritty test at the Asian Cup in Qatar.
Almost a year ago in a rain-lashed evening at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata, the Indian football team, led by the talismanic skipper Sunil Chhetri, produced a dominant show against Hong Kong to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup. The Blue Tigers had then thrashed their opponents 4-0, who until then were unbeaten at the tournament and many predicted them to repeat the same against India.
As India gear up for their next assignment, which is the Intercontinental Cup, the captain addressing a virtual press conference called in the evening. “It was an exciting and lovely day in Calcutta (Kolkata). Now we have to make sure that we do justice to all the hard work we've done,” noted Chhetri on Saturday.
While India will be playing the Intercontinental Cup, followed by the SAFF Championship, the prime focus remains on the continental event, which is scheduled to be played in January-February next year in Qatar.
India, ranked 101 in the latest FIFA rankings, will face a gritty test at the Asian Cup in Qatar. The team is clubbed alongside Australia, Syria and Uzbekistan – all placed much higher than India in the rankings.
Chhetri too admits the same but hopes to draw inspiration from underdogs Morocco, who had stunned the likes of Belgium, Spain, and Portugal to reach the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup 2022.
“On the looks of it, it seems a little bit more difficult than what we had the last time. Asian Cup always would be difficult. Even when we met Thailand, UAE and Bahrain the last time, it was difficult. We had some good performances in some games, some moments we weren't that great, especially the second half against Bahrain. And going forward to give any huge target to myself or the team wouldn't be ideal. We're trying our best about being as tough opponent as possible and go and give a good account of ourselves.
"In modern football a lot of teams who are underdogs have shown us. One name that comes in my head is Morocco. And if you're a good unit you can make it difficult for other teams to play against you. And that's our first and prime target. On paper it does look a little bit more than the last time,” said Chhetri.