Thanks to a brace by captain marvel Sunil Chhetri, India beat Kenya 2-0 to become the 2018 Hero Intercontinental Cup champions. Chhetri has now equalled Lionel Messi’s tally of 64 international goals. Only Cristiano Ronaldo has more goals (81) than Chhetri in terms of most international goals scored by an active footballer.
In the Intercontinental Cup tie, India were clear favourites as they had the home advantage. India faced Kenya earlier in the group stage too where they beat them 3-0 thanks to another brace by Sunil Chhetri.
India was quick to open the scoring as they utilised a free quick in the eighth minute. The free quick was straight out of the practice sessions as Chhetri finished a smart one taken by Anirudh Thapa.
Before Kenya could realise what struck them, Chhetri scored once again in the 28th minute to double India’s lead. India did not stop there as they had a few more chances created by the other star forward Jeje Lalpekhlua.
Kenya were resilient as they tried to fight back in the second half and came really close to scoring from a free kick in the 76th minute, only to be denied by goalkeeper Gurpreet Sandhu yet again. Sandhu had a great game as he turned away Kenya on multiple occasions. Defender Sandesh Jhingan was the other star for India as they put up a solid defensive performance.
Kenya had earlier beaten Chinese Taipei 4-0 to qualify for the finals, overcoming New Zealand on the basis of goal difference.
This win comes at a very crucial time for India as an emotional Sunil Chhetri had urged fans to come to the stadiums to support the national team. Fans will be hoping that the team keeps up their good run and go on to win the AFC Asia Cup 2019