INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALL: Sunil Chhetri: India’s most promising young footballer

SUNIL CHHETRI WATCH:

INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALL: Sunil Chhetri: India’s most promising young footballer – India’s call to fame or is he just another illegal foreigner ?!!

Sunil Chhetri with Maradona - Does India really deserve Darjeeling born Sunil ?!! (Kolkatafootball.com)

From Sports Keeda
Posted by Sunit Kumar

Aug 6, 2010: As a sequel to my very first article on Indian football, this piece looks at the most promising talent in Indian Football. Sunil Chhetri is currently experiencing the spotlight that very few Indian footballers can achieve in this cricket crazy country.

Yet the Delhi boy, born in the picturesque hilly town of Darjeeling at the foothills of the Himalayas who could have represented Nepal through his parentage, is keeping his feet firmly on the ground. Sunil Chhetri is on a long journey and has in his way garnered the kind of football stardom rarely experienced in this country.

Under the guidance of national coach Bob Houghton, Chetri has been able to develop himself as a potential successor of Bhaichung Bhutia, the current Indian national team captain who for years has been the sole flagbearer of a stumbling football nation.

Bhutia’s experience at the highest level has been of great help to Chhetri, the protégé.

Both the players have developed a very close relationship between themselves over the past few years under Bobby Houghton and their close friendship has been evident on the football pitch too as the two helped India to the prestigious Nehru Cup. They won it back to back and then followed it up with the AFC Challenge Cup. This victory turned out to be a passport to the 2011 Asian cup in Qatar.

With Bhaichung clearly entering into the twilight of his massive decade-long international career, the 25 year old Chhetri has been provided with an added responsibility of leading India’s next generation strike force .

Being short in stature did not hinder Sunil Chhetri to pursue a career in football which is a very dicey career choice in India. Starting off in a local Delhi club was all that he wanted and his talents brought the attention of big national clubs in the forms of Mohun Bagan, JCT Mills and East Bengal.

Currently playing for MLS side Kansas City Wizards, Chetri has already drawn attention of English Championship side Leeds United and several second division Portuguese sides like Estoril Praia and Liga de Honra had offered him the passport to a career in Europe. While the offers from the Portuguese clubs came during the Indian team’s visit to Portugal last year for a preparatory camp, Bob Houghton is using his own English sources to land Chetri in the United Kingdom.

The diminutive striker, to be frank, is finding it hard to adjust to the physical nature of the American football or soccer as it is known in the US but that does not mean Chetri would be another old Indian story of being discarded overseas. Having found out that Sunil is having problems with Kansas City, it is reported that Bob Houghton has advised the player to join the team’s Asian Cup preparation camp in Portugal.

KC Wizards are reportedly interested in letting him play for the national team rather than warming the bench in the US and this might just be a blessing in disguise as Chetri would again have the chance to shine in front of European scouts. 2010-2011 could prove to be an important season for Chetri and India as Houghton’s boys embark on a new international year preparing in earnest for the Asia Cup in 2011 and the 2012 Olympic qualifiers.

This could be the year when Sunil Chetri gets his chance to prove himself against the likes of Australia, South Korea and Bahrain and the success of the country would depend on how the lion-hearted Gurkha takes on Asia’s best under the watchful eyes of Robert Douglas Houghton.

The diminutive striker may not have high-profile skills but his ability to get behind the defense with sheer pace in addition to his tremendous ball control and shooting are important traits that could be utilized at a very high level, be it at international or club levels.

Sunil Chetri, after Baichung Bhuitia, is the second Indian to play against Manchester United when he was brought on as a second half substitute last month and played for twenty one uneventful yet proud minutes in KC Wizards’ 2-1 friendly win over the legendary English team.

With Mr Houghton encouraging Indian players to head to the west by following into the footsteps of their Chinese, Japanese and Korean counterparts; Indians might not have to wait long enough to see one of their countrymen plying their trade in the green pastures of European football community.

Indian football needs figures such as Sunil Chetri and we Indians need to come out of our shell and believe in the boys that are trying hard to give this country something new in the arena of international sport.

Make us believe it Sunil.

EARLIER

Sunil Chhetri Confident India Will Prosper Under Bob Houghton – The Indian star is looking forward to playing under Houghton… as all his worldwide fans are ?!!

US's Kansas City Wizards's Indian player Sunil Chhetri - politics or money aside, just for the love of football ?!! ( © AP Images)

By Stefan Coerts
From Goal.com

Aug 5, 2010 5:10:00 PM: India star Sunil Chhetri has revealed that he’s full of confidence that The Men in Blue will do well under coach Bob Houghton in the build-up toward the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2011. The forward also looked back on his spell in the USA.

“I just want to do well with the national team. Bob Houghton is a great coach and I am confident that the national team will do well under him. It is a great moment for Indian football and the team will surely do well in Doha,” Chhetri said to The Times of India.

The highly rated attacker also took the time to discuss his spell with MLS side Kansas City Wizards and emphasised that the experience of playing abroad has improved him as a player.

“The last three months have been very exciting. Playing in MLS was a great experience. It has boosted my confidence and I feel I have matured as a player.”

India have two wins under their belt so far – against Desportivo das Caldas and Desportivo Monsanto – in their practice matches. For the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2011, India have been drawn alongside Korea Republic, Australia and Bahrain.

Chhetri confident after stint with Kansas City: Dropped from Arjuna Award – India still dipped in race politics or does it want professionalism for free ?!!

The Arjuna Award - maybe it is 'corrupt and warped Indian politicians' who really do not have their 'eye on the goal' ?!!

From NDTV.com

Aug 04, 2010: Sunil Chhetri believes that his time with Kansas City in the Major League Soccer (MLS) has given him a boost in confidence ahead of the upcoming Asian Cup tournament in January, 2011.

The US club has permitted the Indian forward to join the national squad, training in Portugal for the upcoming tournament. He has been released on loan to the national side till January. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has reportedly decided to compensate the striker by shelling out $75,000 for six months.

“The last three months have been very exciting. Playing in MLS was a great experience. It has boosted my confidence and I feel I have matured as a player,” the 26-year-old was quoted on Times of India.

The Indian ace is slated to leave for Portugal on Wednesday.

“I just want to do well with the national team. Bob Houghton is a great coach and I am confident that the national team will do well under him. It is great moment for Indian football and the team will surely do well in Doha,” he added.

The Indian recently got a chance to play with the likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Dimitar Berbatov in a friendly match between Manchester United and Kansas City Wizards. Kansas City beat United 2-1.

“I never thought that I would be playing against the Red Devils and also end up on the winning side,” he said.

The striker was astonished with the facilities provided to him in Kansas and thinks that even if India has ten percent of those provisions it would take Indian Football to new heights.

“The facilities are great and I can assure you if we had even 10 percent of those, it would have been great for Indian football,” said Chhetri.

The Indian striker was dropped from the list of Arjuna Award winners at the last minute and defender Dipak Mondal was selected based on seniority for the prize. Chhetri, however, refused to comment on the matter. (no love lost ?!!)

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