Chhetri raring to go as ISL buzz builds up

Chhetri raring to go as ISL buzz builds up

Chhetri raring to go as ISL buzz builds up

Having missed action last year in the inaugural ISL, Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri today said he is itching to rub shoulders with some of the world's best players in the second edition of the lucrative tournament beginning October 3.

Chhetri, who did not play last year as his I-League club Bangalore FC refused to release him, said that Indian football as a whole will be benefitted as some of the legends are gracing the lSL as either players or coaches and he was happy to be part of the tournament.

"I missed last year but now I am happy to be part of ISL. The popularity of the league in the inaugural year and the top class players brought on the table, it's a treat to watch them. I am raring to go and do well for my team. The quality of the ISL is higher than the I-League and this is a different tournament. We can learn a lot from these top international players and coaches," he said at a media event ahead of the tournament here.

"Technique and quality for sure the Indian players cannot compare with the top international players in the ISL. But in strength and fitness, we are not inferior and we can improve upon it. It is going to be a great learning process for the Indian players," said Chhetri, the most expensive Indian player in the league as he was snapped by FC Mumbai City for Rs 1.2 crore in the player auction in July.

Asked about any particular area which can be beneficial to the Indian players, he said, "It is difficult to pinpoint one area but you can say that ball passing is one area. These international players are the best in ball passing. We can improve on the understanding of the game. Personally, I can be a better player by playing with these top players."

With the buzz surrounding the tournament building, the eight ISL teams fielded three from each of them – coach, marquee foreign player and an Indian player – for a media interaction here with the likes of Nocolas Anelka, Florent Malouda, John Arne Riise, Marco Materazzi, Elano Blumer, Helder Postiga, Lucio, Adrian Mutu, Simao Sabrosa turning up.

Brazilian great Zico (FC Goa) and former England manger Peter Taylor were among the coaches present. The tournament kicks off with a match between defending champions Atletico de Kolkata and Chennaiyin FC in Chennai on October 3.

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