Goals are just numbers, says Sunil Chhetri

Kathmandu: Three short of becoming the country`s highest-ever scorer, Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri says "goals are just numbers" for him and adds his team will take it one match at a time in the upcoming SAFF Championships here.

"Goals are just numbers. Unless goals win you matches they don`t matter at all. And as long as the team wins it simply doesn`t matter as to who has scored them," Chhetri said.

"We have come into the SAFF Championship as a team and we want to do good as a team. Everyone has a specific role. It`s not that someone who scores is superior to the other," he added.

At present Chhetri stays on par with IM Vijayan on 40 international goals while Bhutia stays at the top with 42 strikes.

Asked about the SAFF Championship, he said, "I`m trying to keep away from expectations. If you look back, you will see that we have won tournaments in which we took one match at a time. Every match is a final for us. We play the first final against Pakistan on September 1."

And as far as one of his most important goals was concerned, Chhetri said it came in the 2012 Nehru Cup final against Cameroon.

"I won`t ever forget my equaliser against Cameroon. We had taken an early lead and Cameroon had come back to score two. Then as we pressed, we were awarded a penalty in the dying minutes of the game.

"The championship was hanging on a thread and I had to score. The crowd was behind us and the entire country was behind us too.

"Everything depended on that single shot of mine, that penalty. We went on to win in the tie-breaker."

Chhetri said he is lucky to have always enjoyed a good supply line.

"I was lucky enough to have played a part in a team where I was used to get a lot of balls. Not every striker gets a supply line boasting of Climax Lawrence, Renedy Singh, Steven Dias, Anthony Pereira to name a few.

"Their sole motive was just to feed me and they fed me with great balls. It`s not every day that that you get to play with such a team. It was all teamwork ? they looked forward to me to score and helped me at every step."

The Indian team meanwhile had its first practice session at the Police Ground here today.

National coach Wim Koevermans was satisfied with the intensity of the session.

"It was important for the boys to adjust despite the dark clouds overhead.

"We did inspect three grounds in the morning for practice and eventually zeroed down on the Police Headquarters for the same," Koevermans said.

"We are sticking to the strategies set by our coach. We need to listen to his instructions and are looking forward to the first match," I-league`ss best midfielder Lenny Rodrigues said.


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