Dubai: Talismanic captain of the Indian football team, Sunil Chhetri asked his teammates Tuesday to pull up their socks and produce an improved performance in the team’s crunch World Cup qualifying round match against Afghanistan which will be played Thursday.
After inspiring performance against Asian champions Qatar (0-0 draw), India played out a 1-1 draw against lower-ranked Bangladesh, October 15 in Kolkata.
Igor Stimac’s side are now at the fourth spot in the Group E table with two points and Thursday’s match at Tajikistan capital of Dushanbe will be a crunch game for India to remain in the hunt in the qualifying round. The war-ravaged Afghanistan chose Dushanbe as their home venue for the second round qualifiers of the World Cup.
Sunil Chhetri said ‘converting chances’ was an area where the team need to work more. India had a slew of chances against Bangladesh and all of them they wasted except for the 88th minute header from Adil Khan.
“We are creating chances. But that is not enough. We have to try our best to convert them and try to be a tougher unit while defending. We have missed the boat against Bangladesh and we need to pull up our socks against Afghanistan,” Chhetri said after a short training stint at the Dubai Sports City. “At the end of the day, if we can do better on the pitch, we’ll be happier.”
The Indian team are on transit here on way to Dushanbe. The players reached here Monday and will leave for the Tajikistan later Tuesday. They will reach Dushanbe – which has no direct flight from any Indian city, Wednesday.
Coach Igor Stimac, on his part, said the team will go for a win and it cannot afford to slip at any cost.
“We have a steep task in Dushanbe and we have to overcome that. Winning against Afghanistan is the only thing that is going on in our mind now. It will not come to us, rather we need to go and snatch it. It’s always about us and our performance to achieve something,” the Croatian said.
Full-back Subhasish Bose said, “Maintaining a clean sheet will be of paramount importance in order to stay alive in the race of the World Cup Qualifiers. We will need to be sharper in the absence of Sandesh-bhai (Jhingan).”