Updated: January 4, 2019 10:05:25 pm
With India kickstarting their AFC Asian Cup campaign on Saturday, former football players were all praise for captain Sunil Chhetri for ‘leading by example.’ India hope to exorcise the ghosts of a disastrous outing in 2011 and play Asian Cup as a stepping stone to eventually realise the dream of 2026 World Cup.
India will be relying heavily on all-time top goalscorer Chhetri, who keeps getting better with age, for a successful campaign. Former India player Renedy Singh said, “For me, Sunil is the best example. He has done so well since 2007-8. Even now, he is just not there to support but also there as a leader and proving how important he is. And I really want Sunil to continue the same. Do not worry about age – 34 or 35. He has been playing every game 90 minutes. He is there leading by example.”
What makes @chetrisunil11 so special? 😍
— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) 4 January 2019
Director of Indian national team and former player Abhishek Yadav believed that Chhetri will once again deliver for India. For Chhetri, this edition will be his second Asian Cup participation, having played in 2011 in Doha. “There is a huge role he has to play, especially because he has got the experience of playing in the Asia Cup before. So he understands the level of being there. He has scored goals in the last Asia Cup as well. So a lot of young players look up to him and I am sure that he is going to deliver once again for India,” he said.
Steven Dias, who has shared a room with Chhetri when they used to play together, explained how Chhetri is different from other players. “He is a very disciplined guy whether it comes to food or workout. He is so focused and disciplined that if we plan of going to gym at 4pm, no one can change that. Sometimes I might feel lazy but if Sunil Chhetri says gym at 4pm, it is gym at 4pm. That makes him different from the other players.”
Calling Chhetri a complete player, Subrata Bhattacharya said, “Sunil Chhetri is a complete packlage, and he always leads by example. Not only is he a great striker, he is also a great team man. He has a great spirit and inculcates it in all his teammates and can motive them all. It is absolutely his credit.”
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