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India does not need me to be successful all the time: Sunil Chhetri

Sunil Chhetri

Bengaluru, October 14: Though he is the country's marquee player and all-time top scorer, Sunil Chhetri believes that the present Indian football team coached by Igor Stimac, does not need him to be successful all the time.

"India team won't need a Sunil Chhetri to make a difference. I'm just a little bit luckier and a little bit more experienced. I'm not trying to be cliche, it's a fact," Chhetri told reporters in Kolkata in the pre-match press conference of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Zone qualifiers Group E encounter of the FIFA World Cup 2022 against Bangladesh.

Meanwhile coach Stimac brushed aside the 'favourites' tag and stressed on the 'team mentality' during the pre-match press conference.

India vs Bangladesh 2022 World Cup qualifier: Preview

"Being favourite doesn't matter on the matchday. You need to step up and perform on the pitch. It's 11 vs 11. In a football match, there're always favourites and underdogs," said Stimac.

Marked man

Marked man

With 72 goals from 112 matches, Chhetri is on top of the scoring charts. After a tough drawn away match against AFC Asian Cup 2019 Qatar, India are expected to have it easy against Bangladesh at home.

Chhetri, who is likely to be the 'marked man' for the Bangladesh game was relishing the challenge.

"That's the plan. If three people mark me, even four, we'll be happy. We can even have tea together," he quipped.

Three points on offer

Three points on offer

After the Bangladesh game, India have back-to-back away fixtures against Afghanistan and Oman on November 14 and 19 respectively. The Blue Tigers will be looking to get full three points for which Chhetri believes the team is not dependent on him alone.

"You need to understand that it's not only about me. Manvir, Balwant, Udanta, Ashique all are way better than me. You'll see it tomorrow," he added.

Respect factor

Respect factor

Despite the gulf between the two sides, Stimac was against underestimating the opponents.

"You've to respect the opposition. You need to sacrifice yourself for the team - that's how a team is built and that's how we have started our work. What I can do for the team is of paramount importance."

Different game

Different game

Croat Stimac was quick to add that the Bangladesh game, which starts at 7.30pm in Kolkata's Salt Lake Stadium, would be totally different from the first two AFC Zone qualifiers played against Oman and Qatar.

"Tomorrow's game is absolutely different from the first two. No one counted on us. I feel the pressure is on us and we need to work to release the kind of pressure from us. We just need to win the game and give us a chance for November. Let's wait and see what our boys can do tomorrow."

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Story first published: Monday, October 14, 2019, 16:22 [IST]
Other articles published on Oct 14, 2019
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