Kolkata. Ahead of showdown, prolific striker Sunil Chhetri, who has scored 71 international goals in 111 matches, said "India squad won't need" him to make a difference when the Blue Tigers go out against Bangladesh tomorrow here for World Cup Qualifier. "India team won't need a Sunil Chhetri to make a difference. I'm just a little bit luckier and a little bit more experienced.
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I'm not trying to be cliché, it's a fact," Chhetri mentioned in the pre-match press conference ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Joint Qualifier at the Salt Lake stadium (VYBK).
On being informed that Bangladesh defenders will heavily mark him, he jokingly said,"That's the plan...If three people mark me, even four, we'll be happy. We can even have tea together," he quipped.
"It'll be 10 vs 6, and we'll get a numerical advantage. You need to understand that it's not only about me. Manvir, Balwant, Udanta, Ashique all are way better than me. You'll see it tomorrow," the 35-year-old added.
Coach Igor Stimac brushed aside the 'favourites' tag and stressed on the 'team mentality' during the pre-match press conference.
"Being favourite doesn't matter on the match day. You need to step up and perform on the pitch. It's 11 vs 11. In a football match, there are always favourites and underdogs," Stimac said and added, "You have to respect your teammates. You need to sacrifice yourself for the team - that's how a team is built and that's how we have started our work. What I can do for the team is of paramount importance."
Meanwhile, he showed immense respect for his counterpart, who had played with 'heart' against Asian champions Qatar four days before (October 10, 2019). "They played with a great heart and created quite a few chances against Qatar. They deserved to win the game. We need to step up and get all three points tomorrow," he continued.
He further stated, "With regards to the game, lots of passion will be involved tomorrow. We have shown great organisation and discipline on the pitch. On our day, we can play against anyone.
"Tomorrow's game is absolutely different from the first two. No one counted on us. I feel the pressure is on us and we need to work to release the kind of pressure from us. We just need to win the game and give us a chance for November. Let's wait and see what our boys can do tomorrow."
The Blue Tigers will have back-to-back away fixtures against Afghanistan and Oman on November 14 and 19, 2019 respectively.