No dream farewell for Sunil Chhetri

Wednesday 12th June 2024 06:45 EDT

India failed to give their captain Sunil Chhetri a perfect farewell as Igor Stimac’s team was held to a frustrating 0-0 draw against Kuwait at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata.

As the tearful Chhetri left the international football stage after 151 caps and 94 goals and failing to make an impact on last week’s game, India’s chances of qualifying to the next round now hang in balance. With 5 points from as many matches, and both Afghanistan (4 points from 4 games) and Kuwait (4 points from 5 games) lurking close by, the Blue Tigers now have to beat the already qualified Qatar in their own den in the final Group A fixture..

A top-two finish in the group is the prerequisite not only for opening the door for brushing shoulders with Asia’s best in the third round of World Cup qualifiers, but also guaranteeing a berth in the next edition of Asian Cup.

With stakes so high, it felt like a juncture match for Igor Stimac’s side. Chhetri’s farewell - which drew an official attendance of 58,921 in the stands - further elevated the sense of the occasion.

But India never looked in sync with the challenge in question, dishing out another frustrating performance nearly three months after losing 1-2 to Afghanistan in Guwahati and making their job more difficult now.
In fact, had Gurpreet Singh Sandhu not effected a string of saves, it could have been quite embarrassing for Chhetri and his team.

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