Chhetri makes it count

Chhetri makes it count

Twice in the past Sunil Chhetri had to be satisfied by being a mere spectator to an Indian club’s run in the AFC Cup.

First, in 2008, when Dempo SC made it to the semifinals of the competition, Chhetri was still settling into his new club East Bengal, while the second time in 2013, the Indian talisman was with the now defunct Churchill Brothers when East Bengal made their way into the last-four.

So when opportunity came knocking Chhetri’s way, it was no surprise that the striker accepted it with both hands and took his side -- Bengaluru FC -- into the quarterfinals of the continental competition.

“It is one of the biggest moments of my career,” said Chhetri who played a crucial role with two goals in his side’s win against Kitchee FC.

“I have played AFC Cup for Mohun Bagan, Churchill and now Bengaluru, but I could never qualify for the quarters but this time it’s different. The team played really well to beat Kitchee FC,” he added.

Missing a handful of key players in CK Vineeth and Kim Song Yong, it was a young Daniel Lalhlimpuia who rose to the occasion and supported his skipper up-front against a strong Kitchee side. And Chhetri seemed happy with his new strike partner’s involvement.

“He (Daniel) was excellent. I think that’s the beauty of our side. We are a team where everyone has a chance of making it into the playing XI. Something that happened with Daniel. Three weeks back if you would have asked him if he would start a crucial tie, he would have said no. But then he started and even scored the winner,” said Chhetri.

With the quarterfinals of the AFC Cup scheduled for September, a time when Chhetri is expected to be busy with his ISL commitments, there is a doubt on whether Bengaluru can line-up a formidable side of the tie. However, Chhetri believes that the problem would have a solution soon.

“There’s no clarity yet. but I hope the club I have signed for (BFC) and the team that I will be playing for in the ISL get a solution soon. I see it as a matter of national pride when a team from India plays in the AFC Cup. The team represents the country. And I hope that everyone understands that and we have a solution,” he stated.

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