Sunil Chhetri’s no. 100
India’s 3-0 win over Kenya was monumental for 2 reasons. The first is that Sunil Chhetri marked his 100th national team appearance with a wonderful embrace. The second, was that the captain’s heartfelt appeal to fans was answered. Chhetri’s focus was in both the buildup and the aftermath.
The match was part of the Intercontinental Cup, a tournament that is chiefly intended to serve as a step in preparations for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. The game was preceded by a heartfelt message that the 33-year-old put out through a video on Twitter asking more people to turn up for matches in which the national team is playing. Fans responded by turning up to support the team, and Chhetril thanked his fans in a Tweet.
However, national team coach Stephen Constantine took a slightly dim view on Chhetri’s social media post, saying that he felt that his side’s performances over the last few years should warrant good support regardless.
“I don’t feel we should be begging people to watch the national team. The response has been unbelievable. When the national team has been playing the manner we have been playing in the last three years it was disappointing to see the turnout in the first match,” he stated after the match, according to an AIFF press release.
“I expect the stands to be full in the next two matches,” he added.
He was also full of praise for his side’s performance, with the win ensuring that the Indian football team have qualified for the final of the tournament.
“I want to congratulate the boys for a hard fought victory under difficult conditions. We didn’t play well in the first half. The win puts us in the final of the tournament. That’s what we wanted to achieve since the beginning.”