| Sunil Chetri |
Calcutta: For Sunil Chetri, goals are just numbers. According to the India captain, who’s just two goals short of Bhaichung Bhutia (42) in the international circuit, a successful campaign at the SAFF Championship (in Kathmandu) is all what matters, not personal milestones.
Chetri, who’s on par with IM Vijayan having scored 40 international goals, needs to score just three more to overtake Bhutia and be India’s highest scorer. But a true team-man that he is, Chetri doesn’t want to keep his mind occupied with this thought.
“Goals are just numbers. Unless they win you matches, they don’t matter at all. And as long as the team keeps winning, it doesn’t matter at all as to who have scored,” he told the All India Football Federation (AIFF) website, in Kathamandu, on Wednesday.
“Had I kept thinking of being the highest scorer for the country, I would have never reached here. If you do so, your target becomes narrower.
“We have come into the SAFF Championship as a team and want to perform as one. Everyone has a specific role in the team.
“It’s not that someone who scores is superior than the rest,” Chetri added.
Apart from Bhutia, Vijayan, too, is an inspiration for Chetri and he rues not being able to play alongside the striker, who used to be considered the best in the country during his heydays.
“I wasn’t that fortunate enough to play alongside Vijayan. But I have been fortunate enough to watch many of his matches. Undoubtedly, he is one of the most gifted players India ever had.”
Chetri reiterated the significance of the role played by Bhutia, which helped him develop and evolve as a player.
“I owe a lot to Bhaichungbhai. He has been a mentor to me with his teachings both on and off the field. He has helped me a lot to evolve both as a person and as a footballer,” he stressed.
Speaking about the SAFF Championship, Chetri urged his teammates to treat every game as a final. “I’m trying to keep away from expectations. If you look back, you will see that we have won tournaments where we took one match at a time.
“Every match is a Final for us. We play the first ‘final’ against Pakistan on September 1,” was how he put it.