| Sunil Chetri after scoring one of his two goals, on Wednesday. A Telegraph picture |
Calcutta: By his own admission, Sunil Chetri is going through the best phase of his career.
“Yes, this is the best phase of my career. Injuries have dogged me right from those Mohun Bagan days. But, for the first time in my career I am injury free. Touch wood, I remain fit for the rest of the season,” Chetri said, after his match-winning performance against Mohammedan Sporting, at the Salt Lake Stadium, on Wednesday.
“It’s a great feeling to score two goals in front of a hostile crowd,” he said.
Bengaluru FC are now six points clear at the top with 27 points from 13 matches, but Chetri is not thinking of winning the title. “We are taking one match at a time. Our coach (Ashley Westwood) always says to think of our next match and not anything else. We are just following his instructions. Our next match is against East Bengal at home. So we will be thinking about that match only,” he said.
Talking about his first goal, Chetri said he owed it to Ashley. Hours of practice made that possible. “We studied Mohammedan Sporting’s way of defending during set-pieces and our coach came up with this idea. The execution was perfect and that’s the reason why we all rushed to the coach. Entire credit goes to the gaffer,” the BFC and India captain said.
Chetri said he is finally getting used to playing on the wide. “We have three people who can play as the main striker. Sean Rooney, Thoi Singh and I. It was getting too crowded. It was a conscious decision to play me on the wide. Initially, I was finding it difficult, but now I am comfortable. I am learning to defend when opposition is on the break. That’s something I am working hard at.
“This is a new team. We have a young bunch of players who are working very hard. And we have four very good foreigners. John (Johnson) has an amazing presence in the dressing room. I am really enjoying my stint with Bengaluru FC,” Chetri said.
Chetri has played under Bob Houghton, Wim Koevermans and now Westwood. “All of them are good. Right now Ashley is my coach and I would say he is doing a fantastic job with the team.”
Bengaluru FC coach Westwood also heaped praise on Chetri. “He is class player. His first goal was out of this world. Controlling the ball with such poise and then unleashing a volley was simply amazing. I am a big fan of Sunil,” he said.
Westwood compared his team with Manchester United. “Well in EPL, they are the team to beat. Even when they are not performing well. We are six points clear at present. So everybody will try to beat us. We have an important game against East Bengal.. . As always, we are taking one game at a time,” Westwood said.
As expected, Westwood did not have any complaints about the refereeing. “It’s part of the game. One day there will be decisions which will go in your way, and there will be days when you will be at the receiving end. I have nothing to say about the referee. It’s not my job,” he said.