'We're confident after decent show with 9 men'
New Delhi: Indian football striker Sunil Chhetri sought to draw positives from his side's 0-3 loss to UAE in the away leg of World Cup qualifiers, saying that the decent performance with just nine men has boosted their confidence ahead of the home encounter on Thursday.
India played with just nine men from the 24th minute in their 2014 World Cup qualifiers second round match against United Arab Emirates at Al Ain on July 23. Defender Debabrata Roy and goalkeeper Subrata Paul were red-carded in the 21st and 24th minutes and by that time India were down 0-2.
"After what has happened in UAE, we got two red cards and played with nine men for about 75 minutes. It has put a lot of confidence for the home leg. It's the chance for other players to prove themselves," Chhetri said after the team training.”
"We were emotionally charged, really pumped up after beating Qatar and one month camp. I really think if it was 11 Vs 11 players it would not have happened the way it happened," he rued.
"We are not as bad a team as people make out to be. It is surprising when you play nine men and do not concede more than one goal. We really did well. I was happy with the performance of the players in the away leg," he said.
Chhetri's advice to his team-mates was to just forget the Al Ain loss and concentrate on Thursday's match.
"Playing at home is always beneficial. We have won three tournaments in the last three years here, it is a lovely environment.”
"Of course, it will be tough to beat UAE. But the important thing is not to think about what has happened in UAE but to think Thursday's match as a fresh game. It is about getting your whole act together. Just go there and give your best," he said.
Chhetri said the players were picking up quickly to the style of possession football coach Armando Colaco wants.
"What has really helped with the coach is that a lot of players have played under Armando Colaco. He knows I-League in and out. I do not think it was difficult for him neither it was difficult for the players. We are improving every day, we are understanding what he wants," said the Delhi lad.
Paul will not be playing Thursday match after the red card but Chhetri said his substitute Karanjit Singh had done very well at Al Ain.
"Paul is not playing but we are not worried. Karanjit did amazingly well. It is the chance for others to show what they can do. We hardly change a goalkeeper. Good chance to do well for Karanjit," said Chhetri.