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‘Bhaichung win will benefit football’

Sunil Chetri

Calcutta: Sunil Chetri has always considered Bhaichung Bhutia as his mentor. After becoming India’s top scorer at the international stage, the first thing he had done was dedicating it to Bhaichung.

Now that Bhaichung will contest the Lok Sabha elections from Darjeeling on a Trinamul Congress ticket, the present India captain wants his predecessor to come out victorious. But whether Chetri will campaign for Bhaichung or not is still undecided.

“I don’t know whether I’ll be able to campaign for Bhaichung or not. I first need to talk to my coach (Ashley Westwood) on this matter,” Chetri said after Bengaluru FCs’ 3-1 win over United SC in an I-League match, at the Kalyani Stadium, on Thursday.

“Bhaichung is a great man. His win will benefit football as well as the common people ů It would really be great if he comes out on top,” the 29-year-old added.

Just as he has been bailing India out of trouble with timely strikes, Chetri’s roaring form has been significant in Bengaluru FC’s rise to the top of the I-League standings.

Precisely, he has evolved as a footballer since his return from Sporting Lisbon and that has been evident in Churchill Brothers lifting their second I-League title last season, together with the Bangalore-based outfit’s impressive run so far.

Besides, 13 goals in 18 appearances so far in the competition have put him on top of the highest goal-scorers’ list.

Chetri attributes the success to a solid pre-season conditioning. “Well and truly, the pre-season conditioning was an excellent one.

“We got to thank the Bengaluru FC management for providing us with some wonderful facilities. They play a big role in bringing the best out of the players.

“As far as I’m concerned, what’s more important is that I’ve stayed absolutely fit so far and played almost all matches in this I-League.

“Goals come and go, but what matters is whether you contribute to your team’s success. I just want to carry on serving my teamů That’s itů”

The only thing he hopes for at present is his team winning the I-League in their debut season.

“It’s important that we keep on extending our lead at the top. It’s not easy to come here and beat a Calcutta-based side.

“Our team is on the right track and I hope we maintain the momentum,” the Bengaluru FC captain signed off.

Coach Westwood, too, was all praise for Chetri. He emphasised that Chetri's form will be vital to the team's cause.

“Sunil is in excellent form at the moment. He’s a regular scorer and that too, in his own right.

“If he carries on with this form, he will surely be the top scorer (in this I-League).

“It’s good for us as well because we still got five more games. So, there are another 15 points to play forů Lots of football and points to play forů So, we just cannot be complacent," Westwood remarked.