We need to play against teams better than us and that also away matches, says Sunil Chhetri

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We need to play against teams better than us and that also away matches, says Sunil Chhetri

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SportsCafe Desk

06/13/2018

Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri has declared that India need to play against the top-10 ranked Asian teams ahead of the AFC Asian Cup to facilitate preparation for the tournament. Chhetri has also thanked Virat Kohli for spreading his video and encouraging Indian fans to support the team.

Sunil Chhetri has now turned into a household name across India after a stunning performance in the recently concluded Intercontinental Cup which seen India lift the trophy after beating Chinese Taipei and Kenya throughout the tournament. Chhetri, who scored eight out of India’s eleven goals across four matches equaled Argentine great, Lionel Messi, as the joint-second most active international goalscorer with 64 goals from 102 matches.

However, the talismanic forward believed that India still has a lot to do ahead of the next year’s AFC Asian Cup to be held in UAE. India will go up against the likes of UAE, Bahrain, and Thailand in Group A next year and Chhetri reckoned that the young Indian needed some game time against the top-10 Asian teams in the near future.

"I definitely feel so (play against top-10 ranked teams in Asia). It will be difficult to play against the top five as they are playing in the World Cup. But we need to play against teams better than us and that also away matches. At home we are doing better but in away matches, if I may say so, our record is poor," said Chhetri to PTI sources.

Chhetri also added that India needed to build on their impressive showing in the Intercontinental Cup and carry the momentum into the rest of the upcoming season.

"We don't get to play against New Zealand and Kenya everyday but the teams we are going to play in Asian Cup (in January 2019) like Thailand and Bahrain are two to three levels higher than us. We should be happy with what we have done but not get carried away. We have to improve a lot.

"UAE, Thailand, and Bahrain (which are in India's group) are miles better than us and we have to put our heads down and keep working hard," said Chhetri.

Chhetri added that the disappointing showout in the opening match against Chinese Taipei made him record and share that now-famous video where he appealed to the Indian fans in Mumbai to come and show their support. The 32-year old forward also applauded Virat Kohli for his encouragement after the Indian batsman responded to Chhetri’s video via Twitter.

"Virat generally loves football. We talk on a regular basis, not on twitter though. He likes football and probably that is why he came to my support. He is a part of FC Goa team and comes to watch ISL matches. He is knowledgeable about football and that is why he wants to encourage fans to watch football matches and that is great. I did not ask him personally though," Chhetri added.

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