Name: Sunil Chhetri
Club: Bengaluru FC
Position: Left-Wing, Striker
National Team caps: 103
Level with Lionel Messi as the second highest active goalscorer for
Footballing aspects aside, Chhetri is a leader in every sense of the term and the significance of his presence transcends the football pitch, making him a strong influence in the dressing room.
The Secunderabad-born is not getting any younger and his pace has taken a hit. The forward often over-complicates things instead of playing it safe as he overestimates his and his teammates’ abilities. This might not bode well in Constantine’s style of play and hamper the few chances India will be creating.
NOTABLE NATIONAL TEAM PERFORMANCE
Chhetri can boast about quite a few noteworthy shows in National Team colours. The forward’s role in India’s 1-0 win over Kyrgyzstan in the Asian Cup qualifiers tops the list due to its significance and the recency bias.
With the game tied at 0-0, Chhetri missed a simple opportunity to take the lead in the 56th minute but made up 13 minutes later. The Blue Tigers’ captain led from the front as he initiated a quick counter and beat three players before exchanging a pass with Jeje Lalpekhlua and slotting it home to give India an important victory that enabled them to win the group.
It has been mixed bags for Chhetri in the Indian Super League so far this season. The forward struggled to slip into his scoring boots in the first few matches and endured a poor conversion rate. Chhetri scored a brace against FC Pune City before opening the scoring against Kerala Blasters and eventually bagging the winner against FC Goa. However, the 34-year-old has failed to score in the next four games.
Having said this, Chhetri is still the top scoring Indian in the ISL this season with five goals and their best hope of a good show in the AFC Asian Cup.