Skipper Sunil Chhetri’s brace helped India beat Cambodia 2-0 in a Group D match of the AFC Asian Cup 2022 Qualifiers at the Salt Lake Stadium here on Wednesday.
Playing his 127th match, the 37-year-old Chhetri got his 81st international goal by scoring a 14th-minute penalty. However, he missed a couple of chances in the box, but managed to score his second goal of the match when he nodded home a Brandon Fernandes cross to secure the win for India and took his tally of international goals to 82.
After winning the game, India now set their sights on Afghanistan, whom they meet at the same venue On June 11.
Before the start of the match, the organisers failed to play the national anthem of Cambodia, forcing a slight delay of the match. After the Indian anthem, players were waiting for the Cambodian national anthem. The man behind the machine tried hard but failed to play the anthem.
In their bid to make a fifth appearance in the AFC Asian Cup tournament, India were far from their best and failed to make use of their better possession against Cambodia, but it was Chhetri who once again proved a vital cog for the team and scored two goals to secure a much-needed win for hosts.
With 82 goals from 127 matches, Chhetri now sits behind Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo (117) and Argentine virtuoso Lionel Messi (86).
After winning the match, Indian captain Sunil Chhetri said, “Feels good we kept a clean sheet. We could have done better. I am not trying to be harsh. It was very humid but that was the same for both teams. We could not maintain the same tempo throughout the match because of the conditions but I don’t want to give excuses. It feels good to get the three points but we did not utilize most of our chances. Maybe I am being harsh because I’m old but yes, overall happy with the win.”
When asked about the next game against Afghanistan, he said, “Another clean sheet and a win.”
(Inputs from IANS)