Lucky to get opportunity to play friendlies vs Nepal: Chhetri

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Kathmandu, Aug 31 (IANS) Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri said that the two ‘friendlies’ against Nepal on September 2 and 5 at the Dashrath Rangashala football stadium here would be a great opportunity for his team to “improve” and that his side was lucky to get the opportunity to play a few matches “given the current circumstances”.

“This is an excellent opportunity for us to improve as a team. Given the current circumstances, it wasn’t easy to get ‘friendly’ game. The Nepal Federation and government invited us to play, and we thank them for the opportunity and the gesture,” said Chhetri on Tuesday.

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“Nepal are a very tough side, especially when they play against us, and we are aware of the extreme challenge the two matches present us.”

It’s been raining for the last one week in Kathmandu and the forecast for the next seven days too is bleak but Chhetri’s boys are taking the rain in their stride and aiming to give off their best.

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Other than Chhetri, Pritam Kotal and goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, none of the boys have been to Nepal ever donning the senior team jersey. The trio was there in 2015 when India qualified from the playoffs to the Russia 2018 World Cup Qualifiers.

Head coach Igor Stimac said, “I just hope that it doesn’t rain heavily.”

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Coincidentally, the preparatory camp in Kolkata had also witnessed a downpour, but not extreme enough to become a concern.

Kotal said that a visit to Nepal was always special for him. “It was here that I played my second International match. So, a visit to Nepal will always be special for me. I missed the preparatory camp in Kolkata but was with my club for the AFC Cup (in Maldives recently) and the best part is that we got some match practice,” said Kotal.

–IANS

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