New Delhi, June 1: Sunil Chhetri is perfectly fine with new coach Igor Stimac's view that no player can take his place in the team for granted, a statement that was followed up by "many phone calls" to the Indian football talisman.
"He (Stimac) said that to us in the first meeting, that's a great one. A lot of people called me because of that. And I wondered if he would have said, no matter what people do, he will always play. You will not like that either," Chhetri said on Saturday.
The Indian team is undergoing a camp here to prepare for the upcoming Kings' Cup in Thailand, which will be Stimac's first assignment.
The 34-year-old Chhetri added, "And he (Stimac) said the right thing that no matter what anyone is or the name who performs well is going to be in the team. The way he gauges, everyone is same in his eyes, which is a good thing because everyone has a fair chance of coming to the team."
After a disastrous World Cup qualifying campaign four years ago, during which India lost to tiny Pacific island Guam, Chhetri is optimistic of a better outing this time. "The first five games we're getting to play Vietnam or Thailand, DPR Korea is there and that's a decent lineup. That's a really good many. I don't think last time we played five matches back to back like this.
"And I think all the other dates that the coach wants and the team wants, I hope we get it. One of the reasons why we didn't do well last time was the preliminaries in which we didn't do well. I don't think we played really well there.
"I don't see the same thing happening. I hope that we are able to understand what the coach wants and some September as the best possible team in terms of fitness, in terms of knowing the players and in terms of knowing how the coach wants to play," Chhetri said.