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Hat-trick hero Sunil Chhetri not one for wild celebrations
MUMBAI: Despite registering a hattrick in India’s 5-0 win over Chinese Taipei, Sunil Chhetri’s celebrations on the pitch were rather muted. The Indian captain, who will likely play his 100th international match against Kenya on Monday, says that’s just how he is.
“I am very happy when I score. I do not take it for granted. I am very fortunate to score so many goals for my club and country. I am very happy from inside. It’s just that I don’t celebrate outrageously like Robin Singh,” Chhetri said at the post-match press conference.
Admitting that he takes his goals very seriously, Chhetri said he would burst into wild celebrations if he could score against Bahrain in the AFC Asian Cup. “A goal at the Asian Games, at the Asian Cup, a goal that might help us qualify against Bahrain are goals that might rouse a more wild celebration,” Chhetri said.
“Right now though, Udanta (Singh) comes to my mind. I am very fond of him and he scored his first goal on Friday so I went up and said ‘congratulations kid’ and he said ’58 to go’. So I take my goals very seriously and the day I score against Bahrain and we qualify, trust me, I will jump,” added the 33-year-old.
Jeje Lalpekhlua set up Chhetri’s first two goals last night and the latter said that he shares excellent rapport with the forward from Mizoram. “We have played many games together. He (Jeje) is supremely talented. He is very experienced, knowledgeable and works so hard on his game. He is somebody who I respect a lot and is one of our best players. So it is not difficult to combine with him and I have done my best to help him and he does the same.”
Asked how he feels about the possibility of many youngsters across India and the world looking up to him as a role model, Chhetri was modest in his reply. “I don’t look at my career as something someone would follow because I (am) busy worrying about my own stuff right now. I don’t think I am at that stature (where) people, especially from other countries would follow me, if they do, then I am obliged and privileged,” he said.
“We are talking like this because we won 5-0. If we had lost then you would have abused me. Maybe in 20 years when I have retired, we can think about this and how many people I have inspired or motivated,” Chhetri signed off.
Stephen Constantine said that everything clicked for the home team in the Intercontinental Cup opener.
“We have played well in quite a few games in the past three-and-half years. Today (last night) everything clicked and worked for us. The boys gave everything they had,” Constantine said. “There were some very encouraging performances from the young players and I am very pleased. We had a good game but we cannot get carried away. We have much tougher games coming up against much stronger opponents. I am happy with the result and for the players but for me it is past now.”