'Want to improve my goal tally'

'Want to improve my goal tally'

Fresh after powering India to a record seventh SAFF Cup, ace striker Sunil Chhetri has switched his focus to the I-League where for the third straight season he will hold the key to Bengaluru FC’s fortunes.

Despite enduring a punishing year where he featured in almost all of India’s matches -- friendlies and World Cup qualifiers -- and the demanding Indian Super League, the 31-year-old said he is physically sound to play the lead role for BFC again. Excerpts from a media interaction:

His thoughts about the upcoming season: I just hope I improve on the goal tally this year. Coming back from the ISL and the national team, me, Eugene (Eugeneson Lyngdoh) and Lalchhuanmawia Fanai know we are being taken care of properly by this club. We are in the best set-up in the country. Thankfully, as gaffer (coach Ashley Westwood) said, none of the BFC players got injured in the ISL, which would have been really disappointing. Really sad to see Robin (Singh) getting injured. But apart from him, everyone is fit.

On adapting to new players in BFC: We have eight new players in the club while the rest are from the same set-up over the last two years. We know what happens here and the kind of standards that are set here. We take a lot of pride in this club. We want to improve every year as a team and as individuals. And the players who have been added this year are only going to add to it. We had to choose from 16 players last year but now we have a bigger pool. We can put two first teams over here and both will be the same as far as strength is concerned.

On winning the SAFF Cup: We’re really happy and satisfied. We didn’t have a great start, we missed Sandesh (Jhingan) and Cavin (Lobo), and two days later we missed Anas (Edathodika) in training. Francis (Fernandes) was injured. Our first game, Robin got injured. There was a little bit of negative with the injuries but thankfully everyone stuck together. When you lose, you’re brought down. But now that we’ve won the SAFF Cup — it’s an important tournament but a lot of people are saying it’s not the World Cup, which it’s not. As a team, we’re looking at it as a match-by-match thing, where you’ve done good in one match and carry on in the next.

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