Sports

SAFF Championship: Nepal fight as a team, we've to be at our best, says Chhetri

ANI | October 15, 2021 01:32 PM
Indian football team during practice (Photo: Twitter/Indian football team)

New Delhi [India], October 15 (ANI): Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri has admitted the SAFF Championship final against Nepal is not "going to be easy" for the Blue Tigers on Saturday.

India on Wednesday defeated Maldives 3-1 to book their spot in the summit clash here in Male, Maldives. Chhetri said the "job is not yet done" and has exuded confidence ahead of the clash.

"They may not have an extraordinary player like an Ali Ashfaq in their ranks. But as far as attacking and defending are concerned, they do it as a team. They have been the best team that plays as a team in this Championship -- they fight as a team," AIFF quoted Chhetri as saying.

"We have played them thrice since September and they are extremely compact as a team and it's not going to be easy. But we have become better and better as games have gone by, and in the final we have to be at our best.

"We pulled our socks up after the first two games and now it is time to finish the job. But the job is not yet done," he added.

The Indian captain also talked about how seniors are taking the lead to lift up the mood in the camp ahead of the summit clash.

"Generally, the senior ones make sure that they calm the whole situation. When you have a team with a lot of youngsters, and if the mood and tempo go down, they may not be able to perform to the best of their abilities," said Chhetri.

"The manner in which we lost two points in the first two matches wasn't an ideal start. What was good was that the likes of Gurpreet, Kotal, Bheke, Subhashish started talking and mixing with the juniors to make sure the mood didn't deteriorate.

"After all, it was easy to get into that vicious circle where you could have started to doubt each other. They made sure that there was a bit of banter, plenty of good vibes, some leg-pulling and the mood changed," he added.

Subhashish Bose will miss the final of the showpiece event but the Indian captain is hopeful of getting a like to like replacement.

"I hope whoever replaces him can do a good job. Bose and Bheke have been brilliant at the back. Predominantly they play as full-backs at their respective clubs, but the duo has done a fantastic job so far," said Chhetri.

"They have been vocal and charged up during this tournament, leading this team at the back. They were so charged up -- they inspired the youngsters. Among the seniors, they have been the best performers so far," he added. (ANI)

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