Sunil Chhetri confirms he has no plans to reverse his retirement decision: ‘No Sir’

Indian football legend Sunil Chhetri reiterated that India’s FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Kuwait in Kolkata on Thursday will be his last dance at the international level and that he has no plans to make a U-turn on his decision. Chhetri had announced his retirement last month and had said he would hang up his boots after Thursday’s game at the iconic Salt Lake Stadium.

Sunil Chhetri made it clear before he addressed the press in Kolkata on Wednesday that the focus would be on India’s crucial qualifier and not on his swansong. The all-time scorer of the Indian national team said he is hopeful of India making it to the third round and that he wouldn’t change his mind to play in the next round of the qualifiers. The 39-year-old said he has already prepared some nice suits to wear when he travels to support the senior national team.

“No sir, the suits are made. I am going to go and watch the boys play. I am not somebody who says something that comes in my mind. I have thought about it a lot. For 19 years, I had a great ride. And this is it,” Sunil Chhetri said on Wednesday.

“I don’t like that ‘if’ in your question. When we win tomorrow, no I will not (change my mind). But, I will go as a fan and support the team wherever they go,” he added.


While all the focus will be on the end of Sunil Chhetri’s storied 19-year-long career, the talismanic striker said India are keen on making it count on the big day and beat Kuwait. India will be under a bit of pressure after having suffered a shock loss to Afghanistan in March, but the home support in Kolkata on a momentous occasion should spur Igor Stimac’s team on.

“It’s not about me and my last match. I don’t want to dwell on it repeatedly. Our primary focus is winning this game. It won’t be easy, but we’re prepared. We’ll have tremendous support,” Chhetri said.

“If we win tomorrow (Thursday), we almost qualify. Five top games home and away, I am going to wear nice suits and watch the match wherever the team travels.

“Every day I talk to the boys about this dream. The longer camp helps because we come from different mentalities. It gives you much more time to work on details. It’s not life-changing, but it helps to focus on the finer points,” he added.


The top two teams from nine groups of four teams each will go on to make the third stage. This round will decide FIFA’s increased allocation of eight World Cup berths for Asia. It will be a little far-fetched to imagine India in the 2026 World Cup in North America, but a win over Kuwait will take the team into the unchartered territory of being up against the best of Asia in at least 10 matches.

Occupying the second spot behind Qatar (12 points) in Group A with four points from four games, India are ahead of Afghanistan on goal difference and Kuwait, who have three points. A victory here will put India firmly ahead of Afghanistan, who face Qatar in a tough fixture later on Thursday.

Afghanistan have a seven-goal deficit against India and a win against Kuwait will virtually keep the equation out of their reach.

India face Qatar, while Afghanistan take on Kuwait in the final round fixtures on Tuesday. (With PTI Inputs)

Published By:

Akshay Ramesh

Published On:

Jun 5, 2024

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