Tag: Sunil Chhetri

Constantine stay confident ahead of UAE tie

ABU DHABI: Before taking on hosts UAE in their second match of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019, coach Stephen Constantine stressed that the “game is played on the pitch, not on paper.”

“We know all the three games are going to be very tough. There’ll be no easy game at this level. But we’ll go toe-to-toe with them. A game is not played on paper, but on the pitch. The UAE are the hosts and will be under pressure. It’s understandable they will go for all three points,” Constantine expressed.

The match which is scheduled to be played at the gigantic Sheikh Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi tomorrow (January 10, 2019) will be telecast live on Star Sports 2, 3 and will also be streamed live on Hotstar. The kick-off is slated for IST 9.30pm.

UAE are currently ranked 79 in the FIFA rankings, and they have been on the winning side on eight occasions against India out of 13 matches played between the two sides. The Blue Tigers have won thrice.

The last encounter between these two sides which took place at the Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi in 2011 had ended in a 2-2 draw, with the last goal being scored by Jeje Lalpekhlua.

“Jeje is a very good player. But unfortunately, he did not have much game time recently. You put Jeje in the position and he will score for you. I was so happy that he scored the goal against Thailand. He deserves to get the goal, especially at this level,” the coach was all praise for the Mizo sniper.

Constantine added: “They are a physical, as well as a skilful side. I am not worried about our fitness. We have to play our best game to get the result.”

Sunil Chhetri, who added another two to his International goal scoring tally in the last outing, also earned huge plaudits from the coach. The two goals took him to 67, surpassing Lionel Messi in the highest scoring active player’s list.

“Sunil has always given everything whenever he has played for the National Team. I can’t complain about this. He is there to do his job and his job is to score goals. He has a phenomenal scoring record and we’re better with him in the team,” the Coach maintained.

“Against Thailand, we gave the ball away too many times which put the opposition in an advantageous position. We have to look after the ball better. I feel we started a bit nervous. Some young boys were too eager to press. We can’t repeat it against UAE.”

Meanwhile, deploying Ashique Kuruniyan up front alongside Sunil Chhetri proved to be a perfect masterstroke by the 55-year-old coach. When he was asked whether he has any further trickery up his sleeves, he quipped: “You have to wait and see.”

We’re not going to start as favorites, states Constantine

DHAKA: Despite defending champions India staring their defence of their SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018 campaign in style against Sri Lanka, a day prior to India’s last group league match against Maldives, National Coach Stephen Constantine declared that his team “is not going to start as favourites in any of the matches” in this tournament.

“In this competition, we are not going to start as favourites in any of our matches. We are a young and inexperienced side and we are playing against senior sides. We can say we have a good chance to win this game. But I don’t feel we can be labelled as favourites before the kick-off,” he stated.

The match is scheduled to be played at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka on Sunday (September 9, 2018) at IST 6.30pm and will be telecast live on D Sport.

History points out that India have got the better of Maldives 13 times out of 18, whereas Maldives have won only twice. The last time the two teams met in the SAFF Championship was in the semi-final of the SAFF Suzuki Cup in Trivandrum in 2015-16 when India rode on a Jeje Lalpekhlua brace and a Sunil Chhetri strike to prevail 3-2.

However, Constantine reflected that ‘history’ won’t play any part when the two teams meet tomorrow.

“I am not a person who loves to focus on history too much. Obviously, it’s nice to look back to find that we have beaten them 13 times. But such facts don’t matter at all,” he maintained.

“Tomorrow we are playing against a completely different Maldives team and they’re also going to face a different India team whom they played last time. Had we won those 13 matches against the same set of players, that would have given us an edge.”

Maldives, meanwhile, played a goalless draw against Sri Lanka in their tournament opener and will be in the desperate hunt for that elusive point which will lift them into the semi-finals.

Reflecting on Sarthak Golui and Ashique Kuruniyan being cautioned in India’s opener against Sri Lanka, Constantine admitted it is a “concern.”

“Yes, that’s a concern for sure. If they get cautioned another time, it won’t be good news for us. We’ll have to be a bit careful tomorrow,” he maintained.

Farukh Choudhary who made his National Team debut against Lanka felt the team is not “under any pressure” at the moment.

“We are not under any sort of pressure. Personally, I am enjoying every single moment in my first National Team endeavour,” he quipped. “Yes, it could have been a dream debut for me had I scored. But leaving the ground with three points is all that mattered.”

“Coach mentioned last day and that our performance was below par. We have realised it too. We can do much better than that. We could have scored a few more goals. We are working on our mistakes and are hopeful to be more clinical tomorrow,” Farukh added.

AFC Cup 2018: Brave Bengaluru take the fight to Turkmenistan

Bengaluru: What seemed like a tie that was done and dusted sprang back to life after Bengaluru produced an inspired second-half comeback against Turkmenistan side Altyn Asyr in the first leg of the AFC Cup Inter-Zone semifinal at the Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Wednesday. The Blues conceded three goals, before scoring two of their own to take a 2-3 result to Ashgabat for the second leg, set to be played in seven days’ time.

With an ill Harmanjot Khabra having to sit out of the game, Cuadrat started with Rino Anto at the right-back position while Xisco Hernandez made his Bengaluru debut, playing in the middle.

The visitors couldn’t have asked for a better start away from home when Vahyt beat the last line of defence and rose to nod home Nurmyradov Selim’s cross from the right in the 11th minute.

The Blues looked almost certain of squaring things up in the 15th minute when Chhetri was picked with a precise cross from Miku. The skipper measured the flight and picked his spot with a calm header only for ’Orazmuhamedov Mamed to clear the ball with an outstretched left foot.

Just when Bengaluru looked like getting back into the game, Altyn Asyr got a second through Altymyrat in the 24th minute. The leading scorer of the Turkmenistan side’s AFC Cup campaign, Altymyrat managed to sneak in a low but powerful hit past Sandhu at the near post.

Not allowing the deficit to kill their resolve of a fightback, Bengaluru gave the Altyn Asyr defence an edgy last ten minutes in the first half where Miku, Chhetri and Nishu had chances stuffed out by desperate blue shirts in the box.

Things slipped further for Bengaluru soon after the second half began when Vahyt got his second and Altyn Asyr’s third goal of the night. Sandhu had an uncharacteristically weak moment allowing Vahyt’s to roll past from under him.

With little to lose, Bengaluru kept plugging away as Udanta Sigh made life difficult for Altyn Asyr’s men on the left. The visitors seemed happy to sit back and defend in numbers as Bengaluru moved the ball all around, prodding for an opening. The Blues finally got one back in the 63rd minute when Bheke smashed home from in the box. Chhetri’s header from Udanta’s cross smashed the post only to bounce back to Bheke who wouldn’t miss.

The goal breathed fresh life into Bengaluru’s charge as they got into a rhythm that Altyn Asyr found tough to handle. The defending was frenetic at best but just enough to keep Miku, Udanta and a host of white shirts at bay.

Bengaluru were left feeling hard done when they thought they had two shouts for what looked like legitimate penalties, turned down by referee Iida Jumpei. But the Blues piled on the pressure, finding a second through Erik Paartalu. With Xisco’s initial cross headed out of the Altyn box, Udanta picked up the pieces and swung in a second that was nodded home by the Aussie.

The Blues fly to Ashgabat, where they will take on the Turkmenistan champions on August 29th, at the Kopetdag Stadium.

Boys wanted to win it and we did it, says Chhetri

MUMBAI: Moments after India lifted the Intercontinental Cup courtesy a splendid Sunil Chhetri performance, Stephen Constantine, Head Coach, Indian National Team praised the team for their character on the field and touting the victory as a “win for Indian Football.”

“We really deserved to win this Cup and the players showed amazing character on the pitch in the final. This is a win for Indian Football. The work rate of the players was phenomenal and we showed how tough we are,” the coach said.

The Intercontinental Cup was memorable for skipper Sunil Chhetri as he not only earned his 100th International Cap and scored seven goals in four matches thus equalling Argentina’s Lionel Messi’s record of 64 goals in International Football.

“The boys wanted to win the tournament and we did it. It is a very important win for us and Indian Football in general,” Chhetri stated. “Kenya were trying to pressure us is in the second half but we showed phenomenal character to play as a team and thwart them away.”

The skipper meanwhile has already turned his eyes towards the AFC Asian Cup. “Everything we do is about the AFC Asian Cup. The AFC Asian Cup is what we are preparing for and this tournament helped us in our preparation for that,” Chhetri added.

“I am trying to play as an example and reciprocate to everyone, trying to encourage each other in our quest for the AFC Asian Cup.”

Intercontinental Cup 2018: Blue Tigers focusing on getting the job done

MUMBAI: Two back to back victories in the ongoing Intercontinental Cup seem to have made the Indian National Team more determined to “keep the ball rolling.”

“We have started off in an exquisite manner but now the challenge is to get the job done in the same fashion. The momentum needs to be sustained and we have to overcome New Zealand next, and then the final,” defender Subhashish Bose utters,

India who sit pretty on 6 points from 2 matches play New Zealand in their next league of the tournament tomorrow at the Mumbai Football Arena.

Striker Balwant Singh, who has been a revelation in the National Team since his return to the squad last year at the tri-nation tournament also at the Mumbai Football Arena also stays aware the “fresh challenge.”

“We have pulled off back-to-back wins but a fresh challenge lies ahead. We have to keep our head down and continue working. We are a confident bunch of lads and we hope we continue the job,” he maintains. Singh came off the bench the other night to lay it for Chhetri to score India’s third goal against Kenya in the last match.

Speaking at a media interaction prior the team’s practice session, winger Halicharan Narzary said, “Obviously we will be playing for a win against New Zealand, but it will not be easy. It will be remarkable if we win all of our three matches going ahead into the finals of the Cup and keep the winning momentum alive till the finals”

Post the two back to back victories, the team was involved in a recovery session at the pool and team meetings. The squad also went through a practice session at the Mumbai Football arena this evening.

“We are working as a unit and I, personally, feel confident to score more. As a striker, utilising opportunities and scoring goals is of paramount importance and I won’t compromise with that,” Balwant informs.

Subhashish feels the AFC Asian Cup will be a “huge platform” for the team.

“The AFC Asian Cup is going to be a huge platform for us where we have to be absolutely at the top of our game. This tournament has been going well so far and hopefully, we’ll leave Mumbai with some extra baggage,” he smiles.

Narzary adds: “The Intercontinental Cup is a very important tournament for us and before the AFC Asian Cup it will be a good platform to test ourselves against some of the teams of different playing styles of the elite level, that we don’t come across often”

Barely a veteran of two International matches, Subhashish is happy to having contributed for the team’s cause. “It’s so satisfying to have played my heart out to help us register back-to-back clean-sheets. But it was the defence line led by Sandesh-bhai and Anas-bhai who made it possible. Not to forget that had not Gurpreet-paaji not pulled off those marvellous saves, clean-sheets wouldn’t have been possible at all,” he quips.

Halicharan lauded skipper Sunil Chhetri as a motivation for every young football in the nation and said, “Sunil bhai is an inspiration in himself and he has been a role model for every young player in India. It is a joyous moment for Indian football that a legend has played 100 matches and I wish he will play even more in the coming years”

“We wanted to give Sunil-bhai a gift on his 100th International Cap and that gift was qualifying to play in the final of the Intercontinental Cup and defeat Kenya. Now we will take one match at a time and aim to win the Cup”, he further added.

I haven’t reached the stature to inspire international players: Chhetri

MUMBAI: Even as Chinese Taipei coach Gary White feels that his “youngsters will look up to Sunil Chhetri someday,” the Indian National Team Captain felt he hasn’t yet attained the stature where International Footballers will “look up to him.”

“I feel I haven’t yet reached that stature where International Footballers will look up to me,” he smiled. “At this moment, I am more concerned about myself and my career. Maybe 20 years from now with me having retired, I may reflect back whether I have inspired someone or not. But right now, it’s too premature,” the man with 99 International caps sounded humble.

Sitting pretty at 59 goals in International Football, Chhetri on Friday, also became the first-ever Indian Footballer to have scored three hat-tricks in International Football surpassing Appalaraju and IM Vijayan, both of whom had two hat-tricks to their credit.

Speaking about his telepathy with fellow striker Jeje Lalpekhlua, Chhetri who has scored 15 goals in the 25 matches under Coach Stephen Constantine attributed it to the duo having “played together” for long.

“The understanding comes from the fact that we have played many games together. Jeje is a supremely talented player. He really works hard on his game and is one of our best players. I try my best to help him and vice versa,” Chhetri said in one breath. “Two of my goals today (against Chinese Taipei) came off Jeje’s pass. He is a very strong player who can hold defenders. My job becomes easier when he is around.”

There’s however, a sentiment that Chhetri doesn’t celebrate his goals as much as his fans would love him too. “I feel extremely happy when I score. I am very fortunate to have played and scored for teams, both at the International level and at the Club level. I value my goals very much,” he reflected.

“Right after the game Udanta (Singh) was in the ice-bath and I congratulated him for scoring his first-ever International goal. Yeah, I am very fond of him but I told him: ‘Congrats boy. But 58 more to go.”

ISL 4: Bengaluru FC down Chennaiyin, extend lead at the top

Chennai, February 6: Bengaluru FC registered a comfortable 3-1 victory over Chennaiyin FC and extended their lead at the top of the Hero Indian Super League table to seven points at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai, on Tuesday.

The visitors created more chances and deservedly took away all three points from the game.

Bengaluru FC opened the scoring with barely a minute on the clock through Boithang Haokip. Chennaiyin FC equalised through Francisco Fernandes in the 33rd minute but Bengaluru FC turned it around in the second half with goals from Miku (63rd minute) and Sunil Chhetri in added time.

Chennaiyin FC were reduced to 10 men in the 71st minute after Henrique Sereno picked up his second booking.

Bengaluru surged ahead early. After some neat play down the right, Harmanjot Khabra’s deep cross towards the far post found Sunil Chettri, who headed it down for Haokip to push it into the net, and the midfielder did so sliding the ball through the legs of Chennaiyin FC goalkeeper Karanjit Singh.

The visitors could have easily doubled their lead given the number of opportunities they created in the first 30 minutes of the game. Albert Roca’s men were finding their way to the opposition byline with easy. But as it is in football, you often get punished for not taking your chances, and that’s what happened.

In the 33rd minute, Francisco brought Chennaiyin FC back on level terms with a headed goal. Jerry Lalrinzuala put in a zipping cross into the box from the left and the Goan midfielder got himself between two Bengaluru FC centrebacks to thump the ball into the top right hand of Gurpreet Singh’s goal.

In the second half, John Gregory’s side took the game to the visitors but it were Bengaluru FC who regained the lead in the 63rd minute. The visitor’s top scorer Miku was on hand to bundle the ball across the goal-line after Chennaiyin FC goalkeeper Karanjit Singh parried Chettri’s shot at the near post into the Venezuelan’s path.

Seven minutes later, things got from bad to worse for the home side. Henrique Sereno was dismissed after picking up his second yellow card for a foul on Miku. The home side looked headed for a second consecutive defeat but they were soon handed a lifeline when the referee pointed to the spot for Harmanjyot Khabra’s foul on Dhanpal Ganesh inside the box.

Chennaiyin FC top scorer this season, Jeje Lalpekhlua, took the responsibility from the spot only to be denied by Singh in Bengaluru’s goal.

In added time, Bengaluru added a third to finish the tie through Chettri after Udanta Singh laid the ball for his captain to score his ninth goal.

ISL 4: Bengaluru back on top with 2-1 win over NorthEast

Bengaluru: Bengaluru FC returned to the top of the Indian Super League table after a hard-fought 2-1 victory over NorthEast United at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Thursday.

Spanish defender Juanan scored the opening goal to give BFC the lead before Marcinho equalised for the visitors from the spot. But it was BFC skipper Sunil Chhetri who scored the winner to take BFC to the top again. The victory means BFC are a point above Chennaiyin after the same number of games. The Blues have now won four of their last five matches.

Seminlen Doungel, still fresh from his hat-trick against Chennaiyin FC, tried to go for the spectacular when he went for a back-heeled effort early on. He was in the thick of the action again, but this time his high-boot led to an innocuous looking free kick for Bengaluru. Edu Garcia aimed straight for the danger area and Juanan somehow flicked it into the net to give the home side the lead.

They almost doubled their lead but Chhetri’s low effort was saved by the goalkeeper’s foot and then a well-worked free kick was easily defended by NorthEast. The two chances came immediately after BFC had taken the lead and could have really hurt the visitors.

Lenny Rodriguez then set up Garcia with one of the passes of the league but the finish was very poor and didn’t do justice to the precise pass. Juanan had another shy on goal with a header but this time it was just wide.

Then Bengaluru gave away a penalty and allowed NorthEast to score completely against the run of play. It was a soft penalty where Subhasish Bose’s arm struck the ball after a sliding tackle. Marcinho blasted the penalty past Gurpreet Singh.

The second half saw Garcia get another chance – but he made things difficult for himself and his attempt to curl the ball into the net went begging. Minutes later, a cross from Harmanjot Khabra eventually bounced at an odd angle for Chhetri, but he brilliantly scored at the far post – an impeccable finish.

Doungel and Cezario were then through on goal with a fine combination but somehow didn’t even hit the target. Most of the final quarter of an hour was about substitutions and a flurry of yellow cards. Until the 81st minute, when Nirmal Chhetri found John Mosquero who’s header went over. NorthEast was creating half chances, but not finishing them.

They would regret that – as the whistle soon went off after the last highlight of the match – when NorthEast could only force a sharp save from Gurpreet.

ISL 4: Mumbai, Bengaluru desperate to get back to winning ways

Mumbai: After a disappointing 0-1 loss against Kerala Blasters FC in their previous game, and that too at home, Mumbai City FC are desperate for a win to keep up the pressure on other teams fighting for the top four slots in the Indian Super League.

Having said that, their opponents, Bengaluru FC, too are looking to overcome their unexpected loss to laggards Delhi Dynamos in an away game not too long ago.

There is a lot at stake for both teams when they meet at Mumbai Sports Arena on Thursday. A win for BFC will see them go back to the top of the points table. On the other hand, Mumbai City FC, which have seen some good results in patches this season, can’t afford any slip up with Kerala Blasters and ATK hot on their heels to make it to the play-offs. And MCFC’s Costa Rican coach Alexandre Guimarães is well aware of that.

“In terms of team performance, I see the team developing. Sometimes this progress doesn’t match the results. And now we have a situation where we have to stand again and we’ll do it. The team which just lay down, will be finished. We’ll not do that. We’ll fight with all our resources to be in the top four,” Guimarães told reporters at the pre-match press conference.

In the reverse fixture earlier in the season, Mumbai were humbled 0-2 by Bengaluru but Guimarães believes his side has improved since.

“The first game, we had too many situations that didn’t allow us to make a good game. They deserved that win for sure. But from that game, we have been building. Our style of play, which has us in this package of eight teams, everybody has a chance to make it to the top four. ISL is like that. You have to be alert, anything can happen. You have to work on how to improve your team and we have been doing that,” the coach added.

If Mumbai have to have any chance of out-gunning Bengaluru, they will have to push their game to another level. BFC, under Albert Roca, are enjoying an incredible debut season in the ISL, and not surprisingly, expectations have grown on them. Bengaluru FC lost their last game against Delhi Dynamos, but their coach feels it’s nothing to worry about.

“It happens. It’s a short season. And see when you have quality behind it’s easy to get back,” he said.

At the same time Roca also feels that there has been an added pressure on his team due to the “favourite tag” that they have been carrying since the start of the tournament.

“We need a balance in our results. We have two wins and then we lose, that’s not good enough. That favourite tag is not good. It puts added pressure on the players when people say ‘oh, you will win everything’. But, though there is pressure, I can tell you that we have the quality to do well,” added Roca

Talking about the game he said, “It’s a tough game and we’ll have to do our best to get the result.”

ISL 4: Bengaluru Claim Bragging Rights On New Year’s Eve

Kochi: It seemed that a spot-kick from Sunil Chettri at the hour mark would be enough to settle the tie for Bengaluru FC. But a flurry of late goals made for a more exciting match which ended 3-1 in favour of the visitors at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Sunday. Miku netted twice in added time, while Courage Pekuson also got on the scoresheet for Kerala Blasters FC.

The win takes Bengaluru FC to third position on the table and in touching distance of league leaders Chennaiyin FC.

The Blues could have easily put more goals past the home side if not for some heroic goalkeeping by Subhasish Roy. He was called into action a number of times on either side of the break, and he kept his team in the contest. Albert Roca’s side were in complete control of the game from the start. In the 35th minute of the game, Roy was put to test by Chhetri but he did enough to palm the strikers fierce shot away. At the other end, Kerala didn’t have much going forward.

The second half began much like the first. Roy was again called into action to save another Chhetri effort in the 50th minute. But ten minutes later, a hand-ball by Sandesh Jhingan gave Bengaluru a chance to take the lead from the spot. Chettri took the responsibility and this time Roy had no answers.

The game continued with Bengaluru looking more likely to score again than a reply from Kerala who were playing in front of their home supporters. Then, later on, Miku got himself a double. The Spanish import’s first goal came after a magnificent solo run from the midfield before putting it past Roy.

Barely a minute later, he got on to a cut back from Subasish Bose, who had done well to get inside the box after nutmegging Jhingan. Miku was left with a simple task of tapping the ball home, which he did with ease.

Kerala Blasters looked down and out and their supporters started to walk out after having seen enough. But there was still time for more drama as Pekuson grabbed a consolidatory goal for the home side after making a bursting run down the middle of Bengaluru defence.