Sunil Chhetri hopes youngsters would push India to Asia's top 10 in future

The Indian team must aim for a top-10 spot among Asian nations and the youngsters will have to step up to make it a reality, reckons talismanic football captain Sunil Chhetri.

Press Trust of India June 19, 2020 16:02:37 IST
Sunil Chhetri hopes youngsters would push India to Asia's top 10 in future

The Indian team must aim for a top-10 spot among Asian nations and the youngsters will have to step up to make it a reality, reckons talismanic football captain Sunil Chhetri.

Chhetri explained that if a batch of players performs well, they set an example for the juniors, who then strive to do better than their seniors and the entire process helps a team consistently raise the bar.

Sunil Chhetri hopes youngsters would push India to Asias top 10 in future

File image of Sunil Chhetri. AIFF

"At this stage in Indian football, you want the national team to push for the top 10 spots in Asia. For that to happen it is very important for these youngsters to come through the ranks and produce the results in the senior team," Chhetri said during a live chat with AIFF TV.

The Indian U-16 team has been handed a tough draw in the AFC U-16 Championships. The Bibiano Fernandes-coached side has been clubbed with heavyweights such as the Korea Republic, Australia and Uzbekistan in Group C.

This is India's third successive qualification into the AFC U-16 Championship and ninth overall. The top two teams from the group will advance to the quarterfinals and the four semifinalists will earn a ticket to the FIFA U-17 World Cup Peru 2021.

"I'm already a big fan of the U-16 team and the Indian Arrows, especially the U-16 team under Bibiano. They look like a really good unit," Chhetri said.

"They have played some really good football and it's all about continuing the push to improve with every step. These boys would want to do better than the previous batch (that clocked a quarterfinal finish in the 2018 AFC U-16 Championship)," said Chhetri.

"In the same manner when this batch produces such a good result, it puts the onus on the guys who are currently in the U-14s to prepare even better, because they would want to better the feat achieved by these guys. You constantly want to push the bar higher," he added.

The 35-year-old, who has the most international caps in Indian football, went on to cite the example of the batch that played the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017.

While the players from the team are still relatively young, Chhetri believes that they already have loads of confidence, having played some top opponents in the U-17 World Cup.

"You should look at the confidence that players like Amarjit (Singh), Suresh (Wangjam) and Narender (Gahlot) have, even though they are some of the youngest players in the senior team," he said.

"That confidence is infectious, and that's what I want to see in the senior team," Chhetri added.

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