Mumbai: Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri ultimately made it by winning with a 2-0 over Kenya in the Intercontinental Cup 2018 final clash on Sunday.
It was his 102nd international match, and Chhetri struck in the eighth minute first, then in 29th minute to hand the trophy to dominant Indian team.
Chhetri’s double strike capped a nice tournament which saw him score eight goals, out of his teams total 11. That put him equal with Argentine superstar Messi who has 64 strikes for the country to be the joint second highest international goal scorer.
Earlier, Chhetri had scored three against Chinese Taipei, and two against Kenya in the league game. He was also able to score one against New Zealand.
Chhetri lead the country’s team, assisted by his confidante Anirudh Thapa. On the other side, Kenyan defender Bernard Oginga gave away a free-kick to India which Chhetri made a better use of. Thapa took the free-kick almost a few steps outside the box and Chhetri connected the ball into the left of the net.
Chhetri initiated his career in football at Mohun Bagan in 2002. Later, he shifted to JCT where he could prove himself. He scored 21 goals in 48 games. He even got into the Kansas City Wizards of Major League Soccer in the year 2010. Chhetri was then known as the third player from the subcontinent to go abroad.
However, he could not do worthwhile in the United States and ultimately he was back in India. Here, he played I-League for Chirag United and Mohun Bagan before going back abroad. Now, he was offered a place by Sporting Clube de Portugal of the Primeira Liga.
The Indian captain had doubled the lead in Kenya thrashing just before the half-hour mark. Though Chhetri had a chance to make it 3-0 and score another hat-trick but could not.
The better player for India in the second half was Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who did a clean sheet with some of his diving tactics.
Observers point out that there were ample chances for Kenya, but could not able to convert them. Moreover, at every time, when Kenya was in a better position, Gurpreet proved a tough hindrance.
In the beginning, the defence, which was shaky in India’s 1-2 loss against New Zealand, got solid in this match as they kept the Kenyan strikers away. Holicharan Nazary and Sandesh Jhingan performed their best.