Exclusive | FIFA U17 World Cup: What does Sunil Chhetri feel about the performance of India U17 team?

[caption id="attachment_10350" align="aligncenter" width="580"]sunil 001 Sunil Chhetri gave an exclusive interview to XtraTime. File Pic[/caption]

Suman Chakravorty, New Delhi: India U17 team will face the Colombia U17 team in a must win Group A game of FIFA U17 World Cup at New Delhi tomorrow. The Indian U17 colts have already lost their first match against USA 0-3 and another loss in the group stage means there would be no chance to qualify for the next round.

India senior team captain Sunil Chhetri looked very happy with India’s game against USA as the boys fought really well against a world class side. In an exclusive interaction with journalist Suman Chakravorty over phone from the national camp, Sunil shared his thoughts about the grand event and the performance of the India colts. Here goes the conversation.

XT: It’s a historic moment as we all know the Indian team played the FIFA World Cup for the very first time in its history. As an Indian football legend how did you see it?

Chhetri: It felt great Suman. Fortunately I was there in the ground to watch the game between India and USA. It was an amazing feeling. This is the first time that a Indian football team is playing a World Cup and it was such an honour to be there and witness the game and I think it was one of those feelings which you can’t express. I was really happy that I was on the pitch to witness the game when the whole crowd was supporting India.

XT: What was the exact motivational speech that you delivered to the boys ahead of the game?

Chhetri: Nothing much. I just told them not to get intimidated by the whole pressure. When you play a big tournament at home lot of people expect lot of things, you may get a lot of calls, lot of people can give you lectures but let’s not think about those things and concentrate on the game and give your best on the pitch. The only think that I told them that not to leave anything behind, because after a few days or a few years you shouldn’t get a feeling that we should have done that or we should have done this. I just hope that they should do whatever they want to do now. So what will happen is eventually they would all be happy, no matter what the result is they will be happy that they have given everything for the country.

XT: The former footballers have said that the team were too defensive in the first half, otherwise the story could have been different. How do you see the performance of the Indian team in the first game?

Chhetri: I think they played really well Suman. Yes they have played a bit defensive in the first half, but from outside it’s very easy to say that. What is going on the pitch and the way the coach has trained is something that only they know. It’s always easy to be in this side and speak whatever comes in your mind. I also do believe we should play more attacking football, but it’s my point of view. It is not the same that the coach thinks, because the coach knows better. He is on the pitch and the boys are on the pitch. So I felt really proud with the way they played. In the second half the boys played really well ,we were very unlucky in few parts. If we didn’t get that penalty against USA the result could have been different. So I think we played really well and I am really proud about the boys.

XT: Ghana and Colombia are good sides but they are not as good as USA. Had you been there at the dressing room, what sort of a pep-talk you would have given to the players?

Chhetri: First of all I would tell them just to recover well. They won’t get a lot of days between two games. And secondly I would have told them that just go and enjoy the game. It is something that would never comeback. Just go there as a team and enjoy the moment of your life.

XT: You are the leading goal scorer in the history of Indian football in the international level. Suresh and Matos both said that this Indian U17 team is creating a lot of chances but they don’t capitalize on the chance factors. As one of the deadliest forwards of all time in Indian football what would be your message to the forwards?

Chhetri: I want to tell them, just relax and calm down because we only played with one striker against USA. The whole pressure shouldn’t be on one person. The whole mid-field should come up and join the attack. Now-a-days if you don’t want to concede a goal the striker should also come back and defend. In the same way you want to score a goal it is the hard work of every member of the team. I will never score a goal only because of me; it is an effort of every member of the squad I play with.

XT: Do you have any repentance of not playing a World Cup?

Chhetri: It was there at a moment but now I am happy just that a World Cup is happening in the country and the boys are playing it. I don’t think much or feel bad about it. Once it was I my mind but it has gone with time. Things that are not in my control I don’t think about that much now. I am just looking forward for my next important game which is against Macau. If we win the game we would get more closer to achieve our goal of playing the AFC Asian Cup. There is no point to stop and regret.

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