Intercontinental Cup: ‘Football in India needs you’, says Sunil Chhetri in impassioned plea to fans for support

India captain Sunil Chhetri on Saturday made an impassioned plea for support to football fans across the country for the side’s ongoing campaign in the Intercontinental Cup, urging them “scream at them, shout at them, abuse them” from the stands if needed.

Chhetri made the request in a video uploaded to his official Twitter account a day after India’s opening game of the campaign, which was against Chinese Taipei, witnessed a low turnout at the Mumbai Football Arena, the venue hosting all the games in the tournament. “To everyone who’s not a football fan, please come and watch us.

Two reasons: Number one, it’s the best game in the world, and number two, we play for our country. We’ll make sure that once you come to watch us, you’ll not go the same person back home.

The Indian football star also addressed the difference in quality between the football played in the country occupying the 97th spot in the FIFA World Rankings versus the brand of football played in the European leagues.

“To all of you who are fans of big European clubs and support European clubs with so much passion and sometimes you guys think that the level is not the same, so why do you waste your time?

Agreed, the level is not the same, not even close, but with our desire and determination, we will try our best to make your time worth,” Chhetri said while thanking the fans who did show up. “To all of you, who have lost hope or don’t have any hope in Indian football, we request you to come and watch us in the stadium,” the captain added.

“I mean it’s not fun to criticise and abuse on the internet. Come to the stadium, do it on our face, scream at us, shout at us, abuse us. Who knows, one day we might change you guys, you might start cheering for us. You guys have no idea how important you guys are and how important your support is.”

India hammered Chinese Taipei 5-0 in their opening game on Friday, with Chhetri himself netting the ball thrice to collect a hat-trick and get his team off to a strong start in the four-nation tournament, with Kenya and New Zealand being the other participating teams.

The Blue Tigers face Kenya on Monday, which will be Chhetri’s 100th match, before squaring off against the All Whites on 7 June. The top two teams then clash in the final that takes place on 10 June.

“I request you all to please come… talk about the game, go back home, have discussions, make banners. Please get involved, this is an important time and juncture in Indian football and football in India needs you guys,” added the Bengaluru FC star before signing off.

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