India football captain Sunil Chhetri would be playing his third Asian Cup in January-February next year. The Igor Stimac-coached side are in Group B with Australia, Uzbekistan and Syria.
“I always knew it would be more difficult than the last time (2019),” Chhetri said during a virtual media interaction from Bhubaneswar on Saturday.
The 38-year-old said that now it’s time for proper preparation. India will be playing a slew of matches beginning with the Intercontinental Cup in the Odisha capital next month in the build-up to the Asian Cup.
“Playing against Lebanon and Kuwait (in the SAFF Championship to be held in Bangalore from June 21 to July 4) would give an idea about Syria. Uzbekistan are a level up and Australia are one of the best in Asia.
“Now is the time to prepare well and give a good account of ourselves.
“A lot of underdogs have shown that if you are a good unit you can make life difficult for other teams.
“Our prime target will be that,” he said.
Chhetri said it would be better if head coach Stimac identifies 11 or 14 players as soon as possible and give them more game-time together ahead of the Asian Cup.
“Sooner he (Stimac) identifies this group, the better it will be for the team. This is my personal opinion,” he said.