Kolkata: The Intercontinental Cup triumph was an achievement but the Asian Cup next year would be a different ball game, Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri said here, Tuesday.
“It (Intercontinental Cup) was a great preparatory tournament for us. We don’t play teams like Kenya and New Zealand every day. It was a different challenge. No matter how much we improve, it might still be less,” Chhetri told reporters after receiving the ‘Indian Player of Year’ award at the ‘Football Players Association of India Awards’ function.
“Let me correct you, with due respect to Kenya and New Zealand the teams that are competing against us in the Asian Cup – Thailand, Bahrain and UAE – they are at least two-three levels up. It’s a different level altogether.”
Chhetri said it’s not about getting carried away but to keep their heads down and work harder. “Where we want to reach is very far. We are just taking small steps. There is no point getting carried away. We should work hard keeping our heads down and try to keep improving ourselves,” informed the Indian skipper.
In spite of becoming the second highest international goal scorer among active players along with Argentine superstar Lionel Messi with his 64th strike, Chhetri, however, said he is hoping to get his best goal in the Asian Cup.
“I can’t think of my favourite goal right now. Hopefully when I score in the Asian Cup, it will be my favourite goal. I’m really happy that I scored that many goals for my country. I am more proud that I’ve played 100 games for my country. That is huge for me and my family,” he added.
Best coach Albert Roca (Bengaluru FC)
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Best Young Player Jerry Mawihmingthanga (JFC)
Fans Player of the Year Subhas Singh (Neroca FC)