Chhetri helps India to overcome Cambodia

Wednesday 15th June 2022 08:21 EDT

At 37, when most players ponder over a farewell game, Sunil Chhetri is proving with astonishing regularity that he is far from a finished product. No wonder that the veteran forward led India’s charge towards a spot in the continent’s biggest football stage with a pair of goals and helping Igor Stimac begin their third and final round Asian Cup qualifying campaign with a 2-0 win over Cambodia at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata last week.
Chhetri put the hosts ahead converting a penalty, earned by Liston Colaco in the 12th minute. He then rose to the occasion to Brandon Fernandes’ cross, heading it past a hapless Cambodian goalkeeper Hul Kimhuy in the 59th minute.

Chhetri is now the third active leading goalscorer in international football behind Cristiano Ronaldo (117) and Lionel Messi (86), taking his tally in Indian jersey to 82 goals.

India pressed early, the wingers’ tempo setting the tone, applying pressure on the Cambodian box with some swift moves. It eventually bore fruit thanks to Colaco’s trademark run down the left flank. He entered the box with menace, steering clear of two challengers, and defender Kok Boris tried to stop him in his tracks with a clumsy challenge, forcing Palestinian referee Baraa Kamal Abu Asheh to point to the spot. A confidence-oozing Chhetri stepped up to do the needful.

And Chhetri showed why he is irreplaceable even at 37. Receiving the ball from Akash after a short corner, Brandon whipped in a long but nicely weighted cross and Chhetri rose to the occasion to head home for his second goal of the night.

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