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regular-article-logo Thursday, 18 April 2024

Asian Games: We need to play as a cohesive unit against Saudi Arabia, says Sunil Chhetri

Chhetri is aware of the problems India are facing during their current campaign

Our Bureau Calcutta Published 28.09.23, 07:08 AM
Sunil Chhetri (centre) and teammates during a training session in Hangzhou.

Sunil Chhetri (centre) and teammates during a training session in Hangzhou. AIFF

India football captain Sunil Chhetri feels they will have to play as a “cohesive unit” if they are to challenge the mighty Saudi Arabia in their Round-of-16 match at the Hangzhou Asian Games on Thursday.

Chhetri is aware of the problems India are facing during their current campaign. He is also conscious of India’s dismal track record against Saudi Arabia and the strength of the west Asian side.

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He believes that if India can stick to the right strategies and young teammates continue to play as a cohesive unit as they did in the three earlier outings, then the pre-quarter-final battle could be a tantalising one.

“We were shown clippp­ings from Saudi games by our coach (Igor Stimac), not only the ones they played here (in Hangzhou) but also a few of their matches from the recent past. He spoke about different ways in which we could go out and apply ourselves.

“On the face value, they are a very good side with a lot of decent players, who are good with the ball...a lot of quality in and around the whole team,” said the India captain was quoted as saying by the-aiff.com.

Saudi Arabia, the fi­fth-largest country in Asia and ranked 57 in the Fifa ranking, have always held the upper hand against India, ranked 102, having scored 18 goals in five matches while India could manage only two.

The last meeting between the teams in the Asian Games — in the 1982 quarter finals in New Delhi — ended in a solitary goal victory for Saudi Ar­abia.

India’s success, despite facing a few problems, can be attributed to meticulous strategies and dedication to their collective goal.

Chhetri emphasised the significance of working together as a cohesive unit, highlighting the importance of unity and solidarity within the team.

“And that is why the emphasis from the coach is very simple: we go in as a unit and avoid situations where they get one versus one; that’s one of the major tactics,” Chhetri continued.

“We saw a lot of formations and different things that the coach wants to try,” he added.

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