The Indian football team’s unexpected early exit from the AFC Asian Cup didn’t just trigger the departure of coach Stephen Constantine but also the retirement of veteran Anas Edathodika. The whole environment, however, hasn’t had any impact on skipper Sunil Chhetri who assured that he isn’t looking to hang up his boots anytime soon.
“No reason to (retire). One day there will be a No. 10 who will be better than me. Till then, I think I can contribute,” confirmed Chhetri in an interview with the Hindustan Times after India suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Bahrain on Monday, crashing out of the Asian Cup 2019 campaign.
Chhetri confirmed that he couldn’t sleep after the defeat as his brain was occupied in processing the unexpected defeat against Bahrain. Admitting that he was expecting the team to go through, the shock loss isn’t something that he has managed to come to terms with so far.
“And I usually sleep a lot. After the win against Thailand, I was fairly confident we would qualify, so to absorb this is particularly difficult. Gutted,” Chhetri sighed. “Mentally, we killed it ourselves. Physically, we were not tired. Someone like Hali (Halicharan Narzary) could have run 180 minutes more. We just didn’t perform. As a senior player, I should have done something, maybe yelled at the boys to not just lump the ball because at this level you simply can’t do that.”
India struggled to impose themselves on the 113-ranked opponents. A defensive-minded show in the first half saw little to no change in the second as the players allowed the opposing players take charge of the game, with the approach paying off in the dying minutes of the game.