Sunil Chhetri believes that the country’s top division league has improved this season but was quick to add that there was a definite room for improvement.
Chhetri, who joined Bengaluru FC in the summer, wants the I-League to be more ‘national’ by spreading its wingers across the country.
“The I-League is getting stronger. It needs to get stronger in future. The pace and intensity of the contests too have improved, and it is being reflected in the performance of the national team. You also need good coaching staff and better grounds to play on. I want the I-League matches to be played across the length and breadth of the country so that kids who want to play football can avail the infrastructure,” he told The Times of India.
It’s been over an year since Wim Koevermans took charge of the national team and Chhetri spoke on the apparent difference in the playing style under his reign.
“Under Wim, one important thing is that we have started playing a lot of passes. In Friday’s game (against Philippines), we controlled the ball and made some good moves. It is important for players to be in sync with the coach and execute the plans on the field. That a few I-League clubs are playing on the lines of the national team helps.”
On being asked to summarise the year for himself, Chhetri said,” I have mixed feelings as far as the national team goes. In the SAFF Championship, we did not begin well but picked up tempo and played well in the semifinal and final. But, against the Philippines we played really well and that’s a good feeling. Personally, I had a great year. I signed for the Churchill Brothers and we ended being I-League champions. Now, I have joined Bengaluru FC, which is a fantastic club. Moreover, I have remained injury-free this year.”
Chhetri went on to explain the reason as to why he keeps hopping clubs on a frequent basis.
“I want to keep improving. I change clubs a lot but that is because I always want to challenge myself. It is a big toil to adapt to a new club, but I enjoy the challenge. I do not set believe in setting long term targets. I scored against the Philippines and now I want to score against Nepal and help the team win.”
With India having submitted its bid document to host the U-17 World Cup, Chhetri hoped that the country gets the nod ahead of South Africa, Ireland and Uzbekistan.
“I hope we really get it as it is a massive event. And, if India gets to host it, we need to make sure that we follow it up well for the betterment of the game.”
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