Chhetri dreams big at Wizards

Chhetri dreams big at Wizards

Ace striker Sunil Chhetri, the first Indian to sign for Major League Soccer team, is hopeful in making an impact at the American league where he will ply his trade for Kansas City Wizards.  

“I am really happy to be in Kansas City Wizards. I am proud to be the first indian playing in the MLS. I need some time to settle down here and I am sure that I will be able to do well,” Chhetri said during a teleconference from US.

Chhetri, who had to undergo a trials at Arizona before being drafted into the Kansas side, said he was impressed with the club’s facilities. “The facilities here are excellent and I am not used to get such facilities everyday back home.
“I will listen to my coach, coaching staff, team-mates and others and try to understand them. I am going to come to training and give my best everyday,” an happy Chhetri said.
Impressed with Chhetri, Wizards’ manager Peter Vermes described the Indian as a bright prospect. “Sunil is a crafty player and technically he’s very sharp. He is an attacking player,” said Vermes.

“It is difficult for players to just come in and fit into the team. But it was great to see that Chhetri easily settling down with the team during trial and a practice match he played. He is a bright prospect to make it to the playing team in future,” added Vermes.
The 25-year-old Chhetri becomes the eighth Asian and the first Indian to play in MLS. He will also be the first Asian to play for the Kansas City Wizards and the third Indian, after Mohammad Salim and Bhaichung Bhutia, to ply his trade outside India.

Chhetri lad has been a regular with the Indian national team since 2004, scoring 16 goals in 35 appearances. His most famous moment with the national team came in 2008, when he scored a hat-trick in the final of the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup against Tajikistan. The Delhi lad began his professional career in 2002 with Mohun Bagan, scoring eight goals in 18 appearances over three years with the team. He later played for I-League sides JCT, East Bengal and Dempo, making 75 appearances and scoring 35 goals over the next five years, earning Indian Player of the Year honour from the AIFF in 2007.
It is not yet clear whether Chhetri will get to play in MLS as all clubs are allowed only eight international slots while the Delhiite is the 10th recruit of Wizards this season. “Right now we have 10 international players, but I don’t foresee that being the case in a week or so. Nobody has to go right now because he (Chhetri) is not on the roster until his paperwork gets approved,” Vermes was quoted as saying by Kansas City.com.
Each team is allotted eight international slots, with the exception of Toronto FC, which is allotted 13 international slots, five of which may be used on domestic US players.  Chhetri thanked his former club Dempo and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) for their support. “I thank Dempo for their support and they had released me for the trials. They were eyeing the I-League title and I know my absence must have caused problems for them. I also thank the AIFF for their support in my endeavour to play abroad and in MLS,” Chhetri said.

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