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Sunil Chhetri's absence - A big worry for India

Sandesh
CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
533   //    24 Mar 2018, 02:55 IST


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Chhetri scored India's winner against the Kyrgyz Republic in the last meeting

Sunil Chhetri would be missing from Tuesday's clash against the Kyrgyz Republic after picking up his second yellow card against Myanmar on 14th November 2017 where India were held to a 2-2 draw.

His first yellow card was against the same opponents in the first game of the group when India won 1-0 in Yangon.

Chhetri, India's most capped player (97 appearances) and top scorer(56 goals) had enjoyed a brilliant spell with the national side recently, scoring 5 goals in 2017 in just 6 games.

Chhetri's impact in the Asian Dream -

India have qualified for the prestigious Asian Cup 2019 for only the fourth time and much of it came down to Chhetri's never say die attitude and his ability to deliver at the right time.

He scored in four of the five group stage games in the third round of qualifying which helped India confirm qualification with two games still to play.

He started off brilliantly, scoring the winner in the dying minutes of the crucial fixture away from home to Myanmar when he latched on to a beautifully squared ball by Udanta Singh.

With just 20 minutes to go in the second game against the Kyrgyz Republic, he picked up a loose ball outside his own box, ran the entire length of the pitch, cutting past 3 players before finding Jeje on the right, who then chipped it back to Chhetri as he scored a historic goal to seal the much-neededthree points and thus, kept India in pole position in Group A with the Asian Dream suddenly looking possible.

The only match in which he failed to contribute came in the away fixture against Macau, where Mumbai City FC forward Balwant Singh scored twice.

Chhetri once again rose to the occasion against Macau at home, giving India the vital lead with the score at 1-1 which ensured that India moved up to 12 points and sealed qualification.

He also came to the rescue against Myanmar again, when he scored from the spot to bring India on level terms.

If we go ahead and check the number of points he has directly had a hand in with his goals in the third round of qualifying, it comes to a massive 76.92% (10/13).

In fact, his tally of four goals was only bettered by four players among all sides.

Chhetri's contribution in India's ranking climb -

Before India faced Puerto Rico in 2016, a side faced 38 places above them, the Indian faithful never thought they would manage to defeat such a higher ranked side, forget climbing in the Top 100 of the FIFA rankings.

But boy didn't the boys do it style, with India's unbeaten run now stretching to a massive 13 games.

One man who has had made it possible is none other than captain marvel Sunil Chhetri, scoring in six of the seven matches starting with the Puerto Rico game.

Chhetri's favored side -

India also boast a mammoth record against the Kyrgyz Republic, winning all three matches that they have played against the Central Asian side and guess what? Chhetri has scored in all the three wins; in 2007, 2009 and most recently in 2017.

In fact, he has scored three goals against the Kyrgyz Republic, only against Nepal(5) & Maldives(6) has he scored more.

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Sandesh
CONTRIBUTOR
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