As India prepare to take on the Philippines in an international friendly, at the Kanchenjunga stadium in Siliguri, Sunil Chhetri has voiced his opinion on this game, claiming that everyone in the home squad is raring to go after the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship final debacle. He also revisited the role clubs played in developing youth in the squad despite the presence of foreigners.
“First of all, we are happy that we are getting to play in our own country. It will be a tough one, but we are going to use all the experience that we have and it will be a chance for the young ones to play for the national team,” elucidated the Bengaluru FC front man, on India’s chances of getting a win in front of the roaring home support.
“You always get one or two players who come into the camp, who are young. What we teach each other is what is important. It all depends on the bigger group that the coach has. It doesn't matter if you're experienced or not, just do the right thing at the right time and take your place in the team,” expounded the hitman.
Questioned on his personal take on foreigners playing in the forward positions in the I-League, which leaves Indian strikers on the bench with none playing in the number nine role, Chhetri quipped, “It's a mixed team. On one side, if you get good foreigners and you train with them every day, it's good for you as a player. At the same time, there are lot of clubs who play only foreigners upfront. So it creates a lot of problems for the young ones who want to start. In the whole league, you just get six or seven starts, at a maximum. It's not the best that could happen to them, but that's the call a lot of clubs go for - two foreigners (strikers).”
“You have to choose your club correctly. As far as possible, when the going gets tough and you have two foreigners, you have to fight for a chance until you get it. I have faced it and a lot of other players have faced the same problems, but you got to make the best of your chances,” he added.
Asked on the advantage of the impact of foreign players, Chhteri stated, “I have been fortunate to train with a lot of good foreigners and if you're training with good players, if you're training with good coaches, if you're training in a good environment, if definitely improves you as a player. So I think you have to choose the foreigners correctly, for the young to train with the best ones.”
With most Indian strikers playing out of position for their clubs, it is a problem for coach Wim Koevermans when the national team convenes.
“Jeje [Lalpekhlua] starts as a number nine and he's in absolutely good form. Robin [Singh] has been doing very well and even if you're not starting regularly, you have to do well here. As I said, you got to deal with it. You got to keep working hard and wait for your opportunity. It happens to all the best players in the world. This is the right stage to keep working hard and be positive and whenever you get a chance, grab it.”
Chhetri spoke on the expectations from the tie against the Azkals as he believes that it's time for the team to produce a positive result.
“To be honest, I'm really looking forward to it because after we lost the [SAFF 2013] final [to Afghanistan] even after playing well, I'm really forward to us playing as a team and get a good game. Not really worried about the result right now. We have to come together as a team and have a game where you comeback. As a team, that's what I want for myself and the whole team. We'll do well as everybody is fresh from the I-League,” concluded the India skipper.
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