Mumbai: Following three consecutive defeats in the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers, Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri believes the team should have got much more time for preparations for their match against Turkmenistan which is scheduled on October 8.
India lost 1-2 to Oman, 1-2 to Guam and 0-3 to Iran in the qualifiers.
Chhetri was bought by Indian Super League (ISL) team Mumbai City FC in the players auction for the second edition which is all set to kick-off on October 3. But all Indian players who are contracted with ISL teams will be leaving for their national duty in two to three day’s time for preparatory camp ahead of Turkmenistan clash.
“We wanted more time for preparations for Turkmenistan. From next year we have to make the calendar in such a way that we don’t we can be able to play all matches. But my main aim is to play for my country and then come back and play ISL matches,” Chhetri told reporters here on Thursday.
Speaking about national team’s three consecutive loss, he said: “We played well against Oman and Iran but we have only ourselves to blame for losing against Guam. We played very bad against Guam. But we need to forget what has happened in the past and stay focused in the task at hand. We will now look forward to give our best against Turkmenistan. We have to play and give our best and make our country proud.”
Mumbai City FC had their pre-season training in hot and humid conditions in Dubai and Chhetri said the time out of the country was a much needed one.
“Last year we did not get to train in pre-season but this time we have prepared ahead of the season start. More than scoring goals we have to be focused on our defence. We have to avoid leaking too many goals,” he said.
Haitian footballer Sony Norde, who has a good knowledge of Indian football after playing for I-League sides for quite a long time, said playing alongside Chhetri makes him feel extremely happy.
“I feel good and extremely happy to play alongside Sunil. He has a very good quality and he is a very good human being. I want to learn from each other and be a better player every day,” he said.