Sunil Chhetri: Records don't matter

Updated: Jan 07, 2019, 11:01 IST | PTI | Abu Dhabi

Sunil Chhetri nets brace in India's first win at Asian Cup since 1964 with 4-1 thrashing of Thailand; insists focus is on scoring goals after going past Messi

India's Sunil Chhetri (second from right) celebrates after scoring a goal against Thailand during the Asian Cup tie in Abu Dhabi yesterday. Pic/AFP
India's Sunil Chhetri (second from right) celebrates after scoring a goal against Thailand during the Asian Cup tie in Abu Dhabi yesterday. Pic/AFP

To say Sunil Chhetri and Lionel Messi in the same breath is more than a little odd, is what the talismanic Indian striker himself felt once or twice. Yesterday, he went past the Argentine superstar in the list of goals scored by an active footballer on the international arena, leading, as he has so many times done, his country to its first win in the AFC Asian Cup since 1964.

He was modesty personified after going past (in terms of goals scored at least) one of modern day's greatest footballers. "Records don't matter, it doesn't matter who scores the goals. Whoever scores the jubilation is the same. I'm glad we got all three points," Chhetri said after the sensational 4-1 result against Thailand, the team that featured three J-League players in its ranks. Chhetri, 34, scored a world-class goal - his second of the game - but he preferred to talk everything else but his strike, which became a talking point for Indian football fans. "I can think about my goals some ten years later," Chhetri said.

"At the moment, we need to focus. The goals need to come and it just doesn't matter who scores," he stated. "You can see the jubilation and happiness whenever someone scores. I am so happy for the boys. Every one of them ran and defended for their lives."

Playing in his second Asian Cup and 105th match, Chhetri scored in the 27th (penalty) and 46th minutes for his 66th and 67th goals to become the second highest international scorer.

With 85 strikes from 154 games, only Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo remains ahead of the Indian at the moment. But Chhetri would rather talk about the difficult upcoming engagements.

"It's a tough pool when we started thinking, we felt that all the others were more experienced and better than us. But the manner the boys fought, it shows a lot of character. I have said this before, we are a very difficult team to play against," he maintained. "We may not be the most technical team but we will fight till the end, and that's what the boys showed."

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