Asian Games: Skipper Sunil Chhetri expresses relief after India’s narrow win over Bangladesh

India’s talismanic forward and goal poacher par excellence Sunil Chhetri on Thursday expressed relief after his side scrapped through to a narrow 1-0 victory against neighbours Bangladesh in a preliminary league match in the Asian Games men’s football competition here.

India’s talismanic forward and goal poacher par excellence Sunil Chhetri on Thursday expressed relief after his side scrapped through to a narrow 1-0 victory against neighbours Bangladesh in a preliminary league match in the Asian Games men’s football competition here.

Having started their campaign with a demoralising 1-5 defeat to hosts China on Tuesday (September 19), India overcame Bangladesh thanks to Chhetri converting an 85th-minute penalty in a group A match at Xiaoshan Sports Centre Stadium on Thursday.

“I feel relief that we gave ourselves a chance to stay in the tournament,” Sunil Chhetri, the Indian football team’s captain, said after the match.

“It wasn’t easy, playing back-to-back in two days and in three days we have a game again. There are no excuses though as the other teams are doing the same thing.

“This (result) gives us a chance of going at Myanmar (MYA) (on Sunday) and trying to qualify,” said India’s all-time top scorer who is third behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi among the most prolific current footballers.

Sunil Chhetri agreed that some of his teammates are going to keep an eye on the China vs Myanmar game in the group as India’s chances hinge on that result.

“Some of us are going to watch it and some of us are going to go through the synopsis and detail of it. At least we have two days now (to recover).”

Asked about how his experience was helping the young India squad, the 39-year-old Chhetri, the only experienced player along with defender Sandesh Jhingan in the squad comprising Under-23 players, said he tries to be a good example to his young teammates.

“I just try to be a good example on and off the pitch. That’s the biggest motivator and that’s the way to make an impact.”

Chhetri said Bangladesh were a very resilient and difficult opponent. “Resilient is the word (to describe them). When you watch the videos and the way they play, the tempo is much higher than what we saw.

“They are always difficult. When they play against us they have always been a good team, so we knew that. It was good that we got the three points,” said Chhetri.

India next play Myanmar on Sunday (September 24) in their last league match in the four-team Pool A. A victory will help India finish runner-up in the Pool and open up an opportunity to qualify for the Round of 16.

(IANS)