The striker feels that even though football is not at the forefront of sports in India, the right steps are being taken to move it forward...Sunil Chhetri, who currently plays for Portuguese side Sporting Clube de Portugal's B side, was frank about the current state of Indian football.
"Indian football has changed. But it's hard when football is overshadowed by more prominent sports," he said at the pre-match conference organised at the Jalan Besar Stadium, Singapore.
At the same time he also sounded encouraged by recent developments. "We're taking the right steps," he acknowledged, "The media and the fans are also co-operating with us."
Chhetri was pleased that India are playing on a FIFA matchday, something which wasn't the case in the past decade. "
"We are excited to come here and play," he quipped.
He reminisced on their last international assignment, "Our last tournament (the Nehru Cup) was a memorable one. But that's in the past. It's up to us to take the challenge."
He also went on to state that Indian football was in fact moving in the right direction, but there was still some way to go. "We should take it step by step and aim to reach among the top 10 in Asia."
"There's a certain plan laid down by the AIFF and we also have a great coach in Wim Koevermans."
"Obviously being top 10 in Asia is not easy, but it is achievable and I'm optimistic." he stated
Chhetri has managed just six minutes of playing time at his new club in Portugal which means that he is short on match fitness.
"I've just played for two months in Portugal and I'm still acclimatising myself to the conditions there," he commented. He hoped that more Indian players could play abroad. "Not because we don't have a good league, but to learn more. This could help improve Indian football."
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