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‘It’s Not About Me’

Despite his age, Chhetri’s resolve remains unshaken, and he is firm in his decision to retire…reports Asian Lite News

Kolkata, June 5 (IANS) As India’s football icon Sunil Chhetri gears up for his final international match, he is determined to shift the spotlight from his retirement to the team’s crucial FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Kuwait. A victory on Thursday will almost secure India’s place in the third round of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers, bringing them a step closer to the 2026 finals in the USA, Canada, and Mexico.

Chhetri, who announced in May that the second-leg match against Kuwait would mark the end of his illustrious 19-year international career, emphasised the importance of the team’s performance over his farewell.

“It’s not about me and my last match. I don’t want to address it again and again. We really want to win this game. This is not going to be easy, but we are ready. We will have tremendous support,” Chhetri said at the press conference.

At 39, Chhetri’s focus remains firmly on the team’s success. He shared his immediate post-retirement plans, highlighting his continued commitment to Indian football. “If we win tomorrow, we almost qualify. Five top games home and away, I am going to wear nice suits and watch the match wherever the team travels,” he revealed.

“Every day I talk to the boys, I keep telling them about this dream. The longer camp helps because we come from different mentalities. It gives you much more time to work on details.”

Despite his age, Chhetri’s resolve remains unshaken, and he is firm in his decision to retire. “Suits are made and I am going to watch the boys play. I have thought about it a lot. I had a great ride all these 19 years. I will go as a fan and support the team wherever the team goes,” he said.

The match against Kuwait is critical, especially following India’s surprising 1-2 loss to lower-ranked Afghanistan in a home-leg tie in Guwahati in March. This defeat was widely criticized by fans and pundits, adding pressure to the upcoming game.

The Indian team head coach Igor Stimac acknowledged the challenge but expressed confidence in the team’s preparation. “We need to take care of these players, they don’t have their best striker. We are also without Sandesh (Jhingan). They impressed me with their last performance against Qatar, they raised their game.

He continued, “But I’m in absolute peace with the way our preparation has gone. It’s only a game of football and we should enjoy it. The result is always in god’s hands.”

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