Indian football has been going through a lot of ups and downs for the previous few years, but things have started to look brighter for the side. And huge credits for that should go to the skipper Sunil Chhetri who has been a constant performer for his country. The captain, however, is not happy with his countrymen.
India are now participating in Intercontinental Cup being held at their home. The other competing nations in the tournament are New Zealand, Kenya and Chinese Taipei.
The hosts have already kicked off their campaign in style, brushing aside Taipei challenge with an emphatic win by 5-0. Chhetri himself scored a hat-trick, and took his international tally to 59 goals from 99 matches. This is by all means a fabulous stat, and things will be even more special for him when he takes the field against Kenya for his 100th match in national colours. That match is scheduled to be held on Monday.
However, Chhetri is not happy with the support he and his teammates are getting from the 1.3 billion country. Quite unfortunately, during the Taipei match, only 2569 people were present at the big stadium. This is in stark contrast with the turnout in any game of cricket, which continues to be the most popular sport in the nation.
After the match, the 33 year old could not but let out his emotions to the public. Chhetri took to Twitter and shared a video of him pleading to his countrymen for their support. According to the striker, the people should come to the stadium, watch them and then criticize them, rather than abusing the footballers on the internet. He also requested the fans not to lose hope, and promised to do his best in this ‘important time and juncture of Indian football’.
India are now ranked 97 in the world. Coached by Stephen Constantine, they are ready to face Kenya on Monday in Chhetri’s milestone game of the career.
Here is Sunil Chhetri’s message to the fans:
“To all of you who are fans of big European clubs and support European clubs with so much passion and sometimes you guys think that the level is not the same, so why do you waste your time? Agreed, the level is not the same, not even close but with our desire and determination, we will try our best to make your time worth.
“To all of you, who have lost hope or don’t have any hope in Indian football, we request you to come and watch us in the stadium. I mean it’s not fun to criticise and abuse on internet. Come to the stadium, do it on our face, scream at us, shout at us, abuse us, who knows one day we might change you guys, you might start cheering for us. You guys have no idea how important you guys are and how important your support is.”
“I request you all to please come …talk about the game, go back home, have discussions, make banners. Please get involved, this is an important time and juncture in Indian football and football in India needs you guys.”