Mumbai: India’s star striker Sunil Chhetri says a win against Kyrgyz Republic in the upcoming match on June 13 will boost the team’s chances of qualifying for the 2019 Asian Cup.
Under coach Stephen Constantine, India are in the middle of a seven-match winning streak.
“We desperately want to win against Kyrgyz Republic at home as they are the favourites and three points against them will boost our chances to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup 2019,” said Chhetri on the sidelines of the AIFF Awards Night.
India’s last victory was a 2-0 defeat of Nepal in an international friendly.
The entire national team had come together to be a part of the first-ever AIFF awards night yesterday.
“Kyrgyz Republic is a big hurdle for us but we are confident to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup in 2019 and with the winning momentum that we have, adds to it.
“When you win everybody is happy. Winning changes things.
It is very important for teams to keep winning. We hope to put our best foot forward,” Chhetri, who won the Hero of the Hero I-League Award, added.
The recent rise in the FIFA ranking, which sees Constantine’s men at 100, has made the team more determined.
But Chhetri wasn’t willing to read much into it.
“Rankings are important to some extent as there are a lot of variables at play. But it is imperative for us to keep winning matches like we did against Myanmar, Puetro Rico and Nepal. As a player you never worry about FIFA rankings, you put your head down and do the work.”
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who was won the award for special recognition added: “Rankings do matter but as a player our job is to concentrate on the pitch and give it our best.”
“We can only take good points going into the match against Kyrgyz Republic. We don’t have to be cocky about winning seven games in a row, but aim to maintain our winning streak,” the first-ever Indian to play in an Europa Cup match said.
Chhetri heaped praise on fellow forward Jeje Lalpekhlua, who received the AIFF Player of the Year Award.
“Jeje is the best player in the country right now. He has been outstanding for the country and whenever he plays we find ourselves in a comfortable position. He is going to take us places.”
The Mizo striker has been a boon for both club and country and even found the net against Nepal.
“My target right now is to win the match against Kyrgyz Republic and boost our effort to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup,” Jeje stated.
“I contribute my performance to my hard work off the pitch and it is very important for me as well to keep scoring and help my team in whatever way possible.”
Meanwhile, Debjit Majumdar, Udanta Singh, Nishu Kumar, Shubhasish Bose and Lalruatthara have been released from the camp.
The team will be travelling to Bengaluru on June 10 for the match against Kyrgyz Republic.