Sunil Chhetri expressed his surprise at coach Stephen Constantine’s decision to hand his resignation at the end of the final game against Bahrain which ended in a 0-1 loss.
India failed to progress into the round of 16 as they finished at the bottom of Group A with just three points to show from as many games.
“We didn't know before the game. He spoke to us and told it in the press conference. He did really well for the country. If you see the records, the number of boys he has given chances. I just want to thank him from me and the whole boys for doing a great job and just hope wherever he goes, wish him all the luck,” said the 34-year-old.
Chhetri affirmed that India couldn’t play in the same manner as they did in the opening two matches against Thailand and UAE.
“I am disappointed and angry. I don't think we played the same way we played the first two games. It tells you that in this level there is no 95 per cent. We have got to give 100 per cent every game. Although we did defend well, we defended too much. We should have kept the ball more. Sometimes when you just need a draw, this is what happens,” he mentioned.
He went on to explain that the Blue Tigers didn’t go into the tie with the desire to eke out a point against the West Asians.
“We weren't (going for a draw). It was in the back of the mind though. As the game went by, around 70-75 minutes, if we keep it like that and so we defended more deeper. 89th minute penalty doesn't happen but it is one of those days,” he said.
“When you allow every cross to come in, there will be desperation. How many are you going to save? We needed to have more guts and needed to calm down. They were desperate. They had two men behind the ball and if we strung three-four passes, it would have been two versus two. We didn't think that time and just kept defending and everything wrong that could have happened, happened,” he further explained.
Although he did point that based on their performance at the tournament, they should have made it into the next round.
“With our last performance, we at least deserve to qualify,” he said.
On being questioned if the team was tired after playing two high intensity games against Thailand and UAE, Chhetri chose rather to focus on the psychological aspect.
“It was mental too because if you keep giving the ball, it is not easy to defend for 90 minutes. So, at some point, we had to be brave and keep the ball like we threatened UAE. We have more chances than them. Today we had only one or two half chances. It was easy for them. It is something we learn and hope we become better after this,” he signed off.