Kolkata. Confident Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri after registering two consecutive victories in front of the home crowd said the team will try their best to reach the next round by registering a win in the last qualifying match of the AFC Asian Cup Qualification Group D against Hong Kong. The Indian football team registered a 2-1 win against Afghanistan in a thrilling encounter on Saturday. All three goals of the match were scored after the 86th minute of play.
Chhetri opened India’s account in the 86th minute in front of 40,000 spectators at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata. Zubair Amiri, however, scored the equalizer for Afghanistan two minutes later. As the match was heading towards a draw, Sahal Abdul Samad’s goal (90+1 min) engulfed the spectators present in the stadium in celebration.
Sunil Chhetri This match was special for him as he completed his 17 years in international football on this day. This was Chhetri’s 83rd goal at the international level. Chhetri said, “It feels great to celebrate our 17 years in international football like this. After Afghanistan’s goal, I thought maybe we have to share the points but our players did what they came out for.
The charismatic player said, ‘Though achievements like these don’t mean much to me but I feel honored and fortunate to be wearing the national team jersey for so long.’
When asked about the way he celebrated like Usain Bolt after Abdul Sahal Samad’s decisive goal at the end of the match, Chhetri laughed and said, “If you look at my ‘GPS’, it’s probably my best part of the day.” There was a fast sprint (race). We will now prepare for the next match by watching the video with some rest. Hong Kong is a strong team, but we are playing at home. We will try our best to win. Fans will also be there.
With this win, India strengthened its position in the group. The team is looking to qualify for the main stage for the second consecutive and fifth time in a row after being eliminated from the group stage in 2019. India’s head coach Igor Stimac said, ‘We were the ‘Blue Tigers’ in the match against Afghanistan, and we need to stay that way on the field. We want to continue with such performances.
Abdul Sahal, who scored the winning goal in the last moments of the match, expressed happiness and said, ‘This victory has come in front of the fans. This has increased its meaning even more. Having faith in myself, I had to hit the goalkeeper. The whole team started celebrating even before I scored my goal.
FIRST PUBLISHED : June 12, 2022, 16:42 IST