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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 24 April 2024

India football team captain Sunil Chhetri gears up for Uzbekistan challenge

The Blue Tigers put up a gritty show to hold the Asian giants for a goalless stalemate in the first half

PTI Doha Published 15.01.24, 06:24 AM
India captain Sunil Chhetri.

India captain Sunil Chhetri. File picture

India football team captain forward Sunil Chhetri has urged teammates to look forward and focus on the match against Uzbekistan after the 2-0 loss to heavyweights Australia in their AFC Asian Cup opener.

The Blue Tigers put up a gritty show to hold the Asian giants for a goalless stalemate in the first half.

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But Australia, who were the World Cup 2022 pre-quarterfinalists, demonstrated their superiority with goals from Craig Irwine (50th) and substitute Jordan Bos (73th).

"There are pros and cons to this game. It’s not easy to play the best team in Asia," Chhetri told the-aiff.com.

“It’s a mixed bag of feelings right now. Once we watch the videos, perhaps we will gain more confidence and work on the things that we could have done better,” he said.

"We are not used to playing sides like these, as we don’t play against them very often, so you never know what to expect."

Chhetri said the focus is now on their Group B match against Uzbekistan on Thursday.

“Uzbekistan are not Australia, but they’re a good side nonetheless. So it will be a big challenge in that game too,” he added. Uzbekistan and Syria played a goalless tie late on Saturday.

Head coach Igor Stimac said: “I am proud of my boys. They showed that they are a bunch of honest, hard-working people, who are committed to whatever we ask of them.”

India showed that a side placed 102nd in the Fifa World Rankings can thwart a team placed 77 places above them.

“It’s frustrating when you have to play teams like these. It would probably not have been so, had it not been a team of Australia’s calibre,” said Stimac.

“The second half was not good for us. We could not get out of the zone. The expectations were on the Australian players. They’re game-ready, so I am overall happy with the result.”

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