Sunil Chhetri discussed how he went through his emotions when India held Qatar.
India’s away draw at Qatar is one of the biggest in Indian football’s history. The Blue Tigers worked their sleeve out and defended for their lives to secure a historical result, as the game ended in a stalemate.
Skipper Sunil Chhetri was forced to sit out due to illness, while his teammates put in a spirited performance to gather a point in Doha. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu made plenty of saves in the game, while the whole defence stood up to the task and cut down the threat when it arrived.
More or less it was an unexpected result, but it was much-deserved for Igor Stimac’s side.
Sunil Chhetri, during the open media session conducted by Bengaluru FC, claimed he was crying before the game as he was not able to take part.
“Before the first minute, before the whistle went, I was crying,” Chhetri said.
“Everyone doesn’t like not playing, but I hate not playing. I’m the worst when I’m not playing. So, I was cribbing, I was ill too because when you’re in the team, you do not think about anything else. But, the 90 minutes were so good.”
When asked about the standout player of the night, the Bengaluru FC striker didn’t give a definitive answer and said he couldn’t point a single player since the whole team functioned immaculately.
“Somebody asked me, please tell me who played well, and I took 14 names and also named 2 coaches because I didn’t know whom to pick,” he said.
“I thought Gurpreet Singh is the man of the match but my god, Anirudh Thapa was absolutely everywhere. Mandar Rao, Rahul Bheke, Rowlin Borgess – I didn’t know whom to pick (as the man of the match) – they were all so good.”
Although they were not able to clinch points against Oman in the opening day of their World Cup Qualifier campaign, Chhetri claimed that different team morale will have an effect on the upcoming games.
“I told someone that even though we did not get 3 points and had just one point to show, and yet (the game) changed everything for us. Now when we come to the camp, we will just be a different team,” Chhetri said.
“The confidence of what you can do when if you are like that and train well, what you can do is that, that’s how much you are capable of, and that gives me so much confidence. So yeah, that was a very important game for us even though it didn’t give us 3 points, it was a very important game for us.”
Chhetri, like any other fan of the national team, experienced a plethora of emotions during the course of the 90 minutes against Qatar. When asked what exactly went through his mind and what he was like during the latter stages of the game, the Skipper said:
“I was screaming. I’ll be honest, from the 60th to the 80th minute, I was thinking time should pass, time should pass. When the 80th minute came around, they (Qatar) were desperate and we got three to four counterattacks and I was like, Man! If we have 10 minutes more or 5 minutes more, we’re gonna score”.
“Trust me, if the game went on, we would’ve scored. They were on our box, they were dominating possession, but we would’ve scored. They were 2 vs 2, and twice a defender lunged at Udanta, we could’ve got a penalty and would’ve scored and won the game. But then, the thought of the Oman game would’ve killed us (laughs).”
India will now take on Bangladesh at Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata on October 15.