India Eye Goals In Sunil Chhetri’s 150th International Appearance


All eyes will be on milestone man Sunil Chhetri as India hope to overcome their struggles in front of goal in the return leg of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Afghanistan in Guwahati on Tuesday. Igor Stimac's India played out a disappointing draw against their lower-ranked opponents in the away leg Group A match in Abha, Saudi Arabia on March 22, extending their goalless run. India last scored a goal in November 2023 against Kuwait.

In this backdrop, from India's point of view it will be important that Chhetri, who will be playing his 150th international match, rises to the occasion and makes his historic game at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium memorable.

Having played his first international match in 2005, he has so far earned 149 international caps, 93 goals and 11 trophies for the country, and his team has seen him score once more, leading them to victory and improving their chances. Will be very happy to see it brightening up. Reaching the third round of World Cup qualification, something they have not achieved.

While Chhetri has always tried to do what is expected of him, his teammates understand that it is not fair to rely solely on the 39-year-old talisman and he will have to make useful contributions if the 58-ranked team has to excel . And will remain in the race for a place in the third round.

Stimac has prioritized qualification to the third round of World Cup qualifiers and secured direct entry into the 2027 AFC Asian Cup, but after his team's disappointing campaign in the last continental showpiece, the Croatian will be under pressure and will want his pupils to Get a chance. Show more frustration, restraint and urgency than ever before.

The Blue Tigers are currently second in the group with four points from three matches, one point ahead of Kuwait, who have three points from the same number of matches.

India can still advance to the third round but the task has become much tougher after last week's stalemate, which saw them gain only one point.

India will need at least four points in their next three matches against Afghanistan (Tuesday), Kuwait (June 6) and Qatar (June 11) to maintain control of their destiny.

Stimac expressed hope that Chhetri can make his historic match even more special by performing befitting his stature in Indian football.

Stimac said, “Being selected to represent your country is the dream of millions of kids from the moment they start kicking a ball, and doing it 150 times is only possible for GOATs (Greatest of All Time).”

“We hope that our captain makes it a memorable March 26 for all the Indian fans and ourselves.” Stimac tried almost all the options in the first leg but they did not work and the team missed a goal.

He acknowledged that the team needed to improve in some areas, especially when attacking, and was not happy with the way his players complicated things rather than keeping smiles in the final third.

“We have to be better at passing, creating chances and attacking the box when crosses are coming from the flanks,” he said.

The Blue Tigers last played in Guwahati five years ago, when they suffered a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Oman in the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup preliminary joint qualifiers.

The match will start at 7 pm Indian time. PTI Aah Aah Aapa Aapa

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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