INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALL: We’re trying to get Chhetri back: Houghton – war for a star, but can India afford to give Sunil the right exposure ?!!
From The Times of India
By Saumyajit Basu
NEW DELHI, Jul 28, 2010, 04.04am IST (TNN): All is not hunky dory with Sunil Chhetri at the Kansas City Wizards in the US. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) wants the Indian striker, who played a cameo role of 21 minutes against Manchester United on Sunday, to join the Indian team’s training camp currently under way in Portugal.
National coach Bob Houghton plans to have the striker under his wings till the Asian Cup engagements. Talking to ToI from Portugal, Houghton said, “We are trying to get him back to the national squad. The plan is to have Kansas loan him to the national team set-up till the completion of the Asian Cup in January.
“Kansas have had a difficult season and giving Chhteri a starting place was always going to be tough. By having him back with us, it works out best for all parties. The plan is to have him rejoin them in February. We’ll know whether Kansas agree at the end of this week.”
If Chhetri’s agent Yogesh Joshee is to be believed, the AIFF is trying to get the striker back since he is not getting enough time on the pitch with the Major League Soccer club.
“The federation wants him back but the compensation package that they have to pay the MLS club is a matter of contention,” Joshee told ToI from Portugal, where he is discussing the issue with the national coach.
“Even Bob feels that Chhetri should join the national squad in Portugal if that can be arranged keeping in mind the financial aspect of the deal. The AIFF has to pay the club if they want Chhetri to leave midway through the contract.”
However, according to the AIFF sources, it’s Chhetri who has sought their help to secure his release from the Wizards because he is finding it difficult to break into the first XI. The sources even said that the striker is asking Houghton to convince AIFF to seek his release.
The Delhi striker has admitted in a recent interview to a website (mlssoccer.com) that his plans are not working out. “There are times when I think it’s just not happening, and I should move on and think of different alternatives. But then it’s a kind of challenge for me. Everyone looks up to me in my country, and there is a point to prove. I came here to learn, and I think I can learn more over here. That really motivates me.”
He added: “It’s been three months that I have been here working a lot and trying to understand the kind of game we play in Kansas City. It’s been difficult because I am not used to all the things that happen over here but I am trying to do my best to acclimatize.”
KC Wizards manager Peter Vermes is also aware of Chhetri’s frustration . “Let’s face it, the reason why he’s here is because he wants to play. There is a frustration level when he doesn’t get to play every week. I will say that he’s handled it pretty well. I know that there are some weeks where he is more up and others when he is a little down. That’s part of being a player.”
His agent is also aware of Chhetri’s dissatisfaction. “It happens with every player. The first season is always difficult. Even Didier Drogba suffered in Chelsea. After the Manchester United match, Chhetri seemed very happy and said it’s a dream come true. I’m discussing the issue with Houghton but if they need Chhetri with the national team, they will have to pay up.” It’s Chhetri’s call, after all.
Indian National Team: Sunil Chhetri To Join Team India From Kansas City Wizards – Almost joining… ?!!
By Rahul Bali
28-Jul-2010 7:43:00 AM: It’s good news for Indian football fans as Sunil Chhetri is likely to be part of the Indian national team camp in Portugal as a deal is likely to inked between the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and Kansas City Wizards in the coming days.
It was back in March when Chhetri made the high profile move to the MLS and it was always going to be difficult for the Indian striker to break into the first eighteen given the level of competition at his new club.
There was a back-up plan decided back then by Indian national coach Bob Houghton who believed that if Chhetri failed to get substantial playing time at Kansas, probably they would loan him out as he had a major role to play for the country at the 2011 Asian Cup.
Expectedly so, Chhetri struggled at the MLS club with the league being at a much higher level than the I-League and had to be content only by training.
With the Delhi lad expressing his interest to join the national camp, Houghton threw his weight around and got the AIFF to do a deal with the American club.
In order to save the face of Chhetri, the AIFF would have approached Kansas and stated that since the player wasn’t playing much for them and since he is crucial for India’s 2011 Asian Cup preparations, it would be great if the club loaned him out for six months or so with the Indian FA taking care of the financials.
When the player was in the national capital last month, he had mentioned about having to endure tough times at Kansas.
“Our ranking does play a role and they don’t trust me yet. I am not in the main team and I am not used to this.
“If I felt that I can’t make it probably I would have come back but I do believe that I can make it,” Chhetri had informed.
Sunil Chhetri feeling frustrated at KC Wizards: Report – true lies ?!!
From The Times of India
NEW DELHI, PTI, Jul 27, 2010, 12.38pm IST: The continuing wait for his Major League Soccer debut despite being with the Kansas City Wizards for four months has left Indian striker Sunil Chhetri frustrated.
Though he was fielded against Manchester United in an international friendly on Sunday, Chhetri is yet to make the 18-man roster since joining the KC Wizards in late March.
He, however, made his club debut on April 13 when he played the first half of a Lamar Hunt US Open Cup game against the Colorado Rapids.
His move to MLS hasn’t exactly gone to plan since then and he has struggled to adapt to the pace and physicality of the game in the United States, according to a website.
“There are times when I think it’s just not happening, and I should move on and think of different alternatives,” Chhetri said.
“But then it’s a kind of challenge for me. Everyone looks up to me in my country, and there is a point to prove for myself. I came here to learn, and I think I can learn more over here. That really motivates me,” he was quoted as saying by the website.
“It’s been three months that I have been here working a lot and trying to understand the kind of game we play in Kansas City. It’s been difficult because I am not used to all the things that happen over here, but I am trying to do my best to acclimatize,” said Chhetri, only the third Indian to ply trade in a foreign professional league.
KC Wizards manager Peter Vermes was well aware that the diminutive striker possesses powerful offensive instincts but felt there is need to work more in certain areas to field him in the MLS.
The technical staff was still trying to help Chhetri refine his contributions on the defensive side of the ball and deal with larger, more powerful players while building the physical level required to accomplish that.
“Let’s face it, the reason why he’s here is because he wants to play,” Vermes said. “There is a frustration level when he doesn’t get to play every week. I will say that he’s handled it pretty well. I know that there are some weeks where he is more up and others when he is a little down. That’s part of being a player,” Vermes said.
There are also reports that Chhetri could leave KC Wizards and join his national team-mates camping in Portugal now but it could not be confirmed from the All India Football Federation officials.
Chhetri, who has been nominated by the AIFF for this year’s Arjuna Award, made a low-key appearance in KC Wizards surprise 2-1 victory over Manchester United at Kansas City on Sunday.
He is the second player after national captain Bhaichung Bhutia to play against Manchester United. Bhutia played against the Red Devils in 2001 when he was with English Championships side FC Bury.
MEANWHILE – CONTRARY REPORTS STATE
Chhetri is ‘happy and settled’ in KC, despite reports from afar – so lets see, Sunil is still young and has much to learn from the world’s best – another year or two perhaps – readying for 2014 FIFA World Cup ?!!
From The Kansas City Star
By Charles Gooch
Tue, Jul. 27, 2010 10:24 PM: There have been a few reports that have come out this week about the apparent unhappiness of Kansas City’s Indian striker Sunil Chhetri. Press reports like this one and this one have stated that Chhetri is “frustrated at not getting enough opportunities to play in Major League Soccer” and “desperate to leave” Kansas City.
Is there any fire behind that smoke? Uh, not really.
According to the Kansas City Wizards and Chhetri’s agent, Yogesh Joshee, those are false alarms.*
*I discounted second report from, from IANS, pretty much outright for failingbasic reading comprehension. They draw their argument that Chhetri is “desperate” to leave comes from a quote he gave to reporters from The Star and MLS — “There are times when I think it’s just not happening, and I should move on and think of different alternatives” — and ignore the second part — “But then it’s a kind of challenge for me.
Everyone looks up to me in my country, and there is a point to prove for myself. I came here to learn, and I think I can learn more over here.” That second part really should’ve set off journalism alarm bells.
Rob Thomson, vice president of communications for the Wizards, read me a statement he received from Joshee: ”I’ve spoken to Sunil, (and he) has informed me that he is very happy and settled at the club. He has assured me that everyone there has been supportive from the first day he arrived and he has every intention to work hard for his team.”
The impetus behind these reports appears to be the All Indian Football Federation’s request to have Indian national team players participate in a preparatory camp for the Asian Cup in January.
According to The Telegraph:“Chetri has called up the national coach Bob Houghton and has requested him to ask the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to get him released from the US club so that he can join the Asian Cup preparatory camp immediately,” said the source. Houghton has already asked the AIFF to try to get the ace striker back as soon as possible.
Though, while there is some truth to the request to go to the camp, Joshee’s statement puts things in a different light.
”The situation is this: The AIFF approached me to see if they could get the services of Sunil Chhetri for the national camp as all the other national team players were granted leave from their respective clubs on a ‘loan’ deal as the AIFF was paying their wages.
After initial discussion with the Wizards, I have informed the AIFF there were chances of this happening and the Kansas City Wizards were willing to cooperate with India and the national team. I’m not sure where India press has got these reports but there seem to be a lot of assumptions in their reports instead of facts.”
Thomson told me in a phone interview that Chhetri hasn’t spoken to anyone about this. Kansas City also hasn’t ruled out letting Chhetri participate in the national team camp, but Thomson says that, at this point, no decision has been made.
I understand that Chhetri is big news back in India and they are probably justifiably frustrated that he isn’t garnering more first-team football. After all, how can India hope to compete in the Asian Cup without the services of their best scorer and only player based overseas?
Here’s the reality: He’s playing in a new country, in a new system and in a new league for the first time in his life this season. He’s a small guy (if he’s 5’7” I’d be shocked; he’s more like 5’5”) and is moving to a very physical league and trying to play in a formation that he’s completely not used too. (It’s also likely that his potential playing time has been swallowed up by the coaching staff trying to pull the team out of a months-long funk in league play.)
If he’s going to play central forward, he’s behind Teal Bunbury (who is more MLS ready by miles) and Josh Wolff (who has seniority). If he’s going to be play as an advanced midfielder, he’s behind Davy Arnaud (the team’s captain) and Graham Zusi (who is flexible across midfield and has a year under his belt already).
But the good news it that he’s just days out from his first in-game action since the U.S. Open Cup in May, and it came during a game against the world’s richest team, Manchester United.
*It’s worth noting that in a game that allowed for “unlimited” substitutions, Wizards coach Peter Vermes only used “seven” and left Josh Wolff and Birahim Diop on the bench. He didn’t even register Jamar Beasley or Santiago Hirisg for the game. We can discuss those decisions at another time.
I understand the impatience of India, but the team is content to move along at this pace with him for now. But contrary to what you read, there is no plan for him (or the team) to move on at this point.