India’s star footballer Sunil Chhetri scored twice against Bangladesh at Doha on Monday (June 7) to become the second-highest active international goalscorer (74 goals) after Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo (103). In fact, Chhetri overtook no less than Argentina’s Lionel Messi when he scored the brace.
India defeated Bangladesh 2-0 to register its first win in the FIFA 2022 World Cup qualifiers, at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on Monday. The team is now on course to enter the third qualifying round of the 2023 Asian Cup. It was also India’s first victory in World Cup qualifiers away from home in 20 years.
The 36-year-old Indian striker is now 11th on the all-time list of international goalscorers. Hungary’s Sandor Kocsis, Japan’s Kunishige Kamamoto, and Kuwait’s Bashar Abdullah, are the active players ahead of him with 75 goals each. Messi scored his 72nd international goal against Chile last Thursday.
Chhetri scored the first goal in the 79th minute and headed another from behind Topu Barman in extra time with a pass from Suresh Singh. With seven points in their kitty, India now play Afghanistan in their last group league match on June 15.
What after Chhetri retires, asks coach
India coach Igor Stimac asked what happens to Indian football once Sunil Chhetri retires.
It is true that Chhetri’s name has become synonymous with Indian football for over a decade. He has single-handedly absorbed the pressure of captaining the national team while scoring at crucial junctures to win matches. At the age of 36, the India captain is bound to retire some day. So the question is: Where does Indian football go minus Chhetri?
“Many people were asking last year ‘when is Sunil going to retire?’ What are we going to do then if he retires? By far, in every training session, he (Chhetri) is our best player,” Stimac said at a virtual press conference.
Chhetri’s first international goal came against Cambodia on August 17, 2007, in New Delhi.