Four years after he made a similar heartfelt appeal in Mumbai, Indian national captain Sunil Chhetri once again appealed to the fans to throng the stadium in large numbers during their upcoming Asian Cup Qualifiers beginning here on June 8.
It was during the Inter-Continental Cup in Mumbai 2018, Chhetri made an emotional appeal to fans on social media ahead of their match against Kenya. The next day a packed Mumbai Football Arena (MFA) witnessed Chhetri and Co. defeat Kenya 3-0.
Back at the football-crazy Kolkata for their Asian Cup qualifiers, Chhetri, who will complete 17 years of International football on June 12, said the fans can make a ”massive difference” at the 70,000-capacity Salt Lake Stadium.
”I mean I genuinely love you guys… With you guys behind us, it’s a different level,” the star Indian forward said in his message posted on the Indian Football Team’s Twitter handle.
India will kick off their campaign in the final leg qualifiers against Cambodia (Wednesday) before facing Afghanistan (June 11) and Hong Kong (June 14). Tickets for the three match days are available on the www.bookmyshow.com portal and at stadium and IFA office counters for ”free”. ”Let the three teams that are going to play against us, play against us plus you, because that will be a massive difference. So, if you’re free, please come. We will try to make it a good experience for you guys,” he added.
These would be India’s first home games since October 2019 when a lowly-ranked visiting Bangladesh side held them to a 1-1 draw at the Salt Lake Stadium which had an official turnout of 61,486.
”Last time, when we played here we played against Bangladesh, there were 50,000+ of you in the stadium. I cannot tell you how happy we were…” Apologising for their result, Chhetri promised that the Blue Tigers would make up for the disappointment last time.
”We couldn’t get a result as good as the support you gave. Apologies, because we didn’t do well. But please come again this time. We’ll try our best to put in the best effort that we can,” he concluded.
India will be eyeing to make the 24-team Asian Cup Finals for the second successive time, and fifth overall.