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AFC Asian Cup: Sunil Chhetri lauds teammates after opening win

Chhetri has been a vital contributor for India in international clashes and has only Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo with 85 international goals ahead of him.

AFC Asian Cup: Sunil Chhetri lauds teammates after opening win
Image Credits: Twitter/@IndianFootball

Sunil Chhetri might have scored two goals against Thailand in India's 4-1 victory in their opening match of the AFC Asian Cup on Sunday, but the highest Indian scorer in international football preferred to play down his achievement.

"I can think about my goals some ten years later. At the moment, we need to focus. The goals need to come and it just doesn`t matter who scores," the star striker said after the match.

"You can see the jubilation and happiness whenever someone scores. I am so happy for the boys. Every one of them ran and defended for their lives," he added.

With much higher rated opponents in Bahrain and hosts United Arab Emirated (UAE) coming up, Chhetri felt that the Indians will have to fight hard to prove themselves.

"It`s a tough pool when we started thinking, we felt that all the others were more experienced and better than us. But the manner the boys fought, it shows a lot of character. I have said this before, we are a very difficult team to play against," he remarked.

"We may not be the most technical team but we will fight till the end, and that`s what the boys showed.

Despite the convincing victory, Chhetri was all praise for the passing abilities of the Thai team.

"They were very good with the ball. We saw that in the first half. We knew that if we allowed them space they would just be passing around the whole park and we may not even touch the ball. So we stayed close. The goals came in the right times and it helped a lot," he said.

On Sunday, Chhetri became the second highest international goal-scorer amongst those currently playing the game, surpassing none other than Argentine superstar Lionel Messi following his 66th strike during the opening clash against Thailand. 

Chhetri, who had 65 goals to his credit before the AFC Asian Cup clash, handed India a well-deserved lead in the 27th minute. The 34-year-old striker calmly converted a penalty which had been handed following a hand-ball by Thai defender Theerathon to reach the milestone.

He then scored a second goal minutes after the second half resumed to tilt the game in favour of India. 

Debutant Anirudh Thapa made his presence felt with an excellent chip in the 68th minute, before a clinical finish by substitute Jeje Lalpekhlua in the 80th minute virtually guaranteed a well-deserved 4-1 win.    

Chhetri has been a vital contributor for India in international clashes and has only Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo with 85 international goals ahead of him.