It’s not about me and my last match: Sunil Chhetri on eve of international retirement

02:07 PM Jun 05, 2024 | Team Udayavani |

Indian football team talisman Sunil Chhetri on Wednesday played down the hype around his last international match and sought to bring the focus back to the team’s crucial FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Kuwait here.


A win on Thursday will almost guarantee the Indian team a maiden appearance in the third round of the FIFA World Cup, the finals of which are scheduled to be held in USA, Canada and Mexico in 2026.

Chhetri last month announced that the second leg match against Kuwait would be his last in international football, having enjoyed a glorious career spanning 19 years.

“It’s not about me and my last match. I don’t want to address it again and again. We really want to win this game. This is not going to be easy, but we are ready. We will have tremendous support,” Chhetri said on the eve of the second round match.

The 39-year-old champion striker, who has already chalked out his immediate plans after walking into international sunset, added, “If we win tomorrow we almost qualify. Five top games home and away, I am going to wear nice suits and watch the match wherever the team travels.


“Everyday I talk to the boys, I keep telling them about this dream. The longer camp helps, because we come from different mentality. It gives you much more time to work on details. It’s not life-changing, but it games you to work on details.” Approaching 40, Chhetri was still asked if he plans to reconsider his decision but he responded in the negative.

“No sir, suits are made and I am going to watch the boys play. I have thought about it a lot. I had a great ride all this 19 years. I will go as a fan and support the team wherever the team goes.” The game against Kuwait holds a lot of significance as India are coming off a shocking 1-2 loss against lower-ranked Afghanistan in a home leg tie in Guwahati in March, a result that was panned by the fans and critics of Indian football.

Asked about their opponents, Indian team head coach Igor Stimac said, “We need to take care of these players, they don’t have their best striker. We are also without Sandesh (Jhingan). They impressed me with their last performance against Qatar, they raised their game.

“But I’m in absolute peace with the way our preparation has gone. It’s only a game of football and we should enjoy it. Result is always in god’s hands.”


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