Chhetri poised to make his 50th Hero ISL appearance against Mumbai
Sunil Chhetri is primed to play his 50th match in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) when Bengaluru FC face off against Mumbai City FC at the Mumbai Football Arena on Sunday. When, and if, he steps on the field against the Islanders, the 34-year-old will add yet another feather to his long list of achievements. To recall, he was recently conferred with the prestigious Padma Shri award.
Chhetri reaching the milestone in a match against Mumbai would only be fitting, considering the star striker made his Hero ISL debut in Mumbai colours back in 2015. In his very first season with the Islanders, Chhetri bagged seven goals and one assist. Nevertheless, despite his efforts, Mumbai could only finish in the 6th position at the end of the season. Chhetri was also a part of the Mumbai team which finished top of the league table in the 2016 edition, before bowing out in the semi-finals.
With Bengaluru FC's inclusion in the Hero ISL in the 2017-18 season, Chhetri turned up for the Blues and guided the team all the way to the final. Despite finishing as runners-up to Chennaiyin FC, Chhetri’s 14 goals and two assists saw him bag the Hero of the League award.
Bengaluru have been in scintillating form in the ongoing 2018-19 season too and currently occupy the top spot in the table. The Blues are the only undefeated team so far this season and unsurprisingly, Chhetri has been at the centre of their exploits. He is currently the team's top scorer this season with five goals in 11 matches.
With a total of 26 Hero ISL goals to his name (7 in 17 matches for Mumbai and 19 in 32 matches for Bengaluru), Chhetri holds the honour of being the highest goal scorer in Hero ISL history among Indian players. On a larger context, he is also just two strikes short of becoming the Hero ISL's all-time top goal scorer - a title which is jointly held by Ferran Corominas and Iain Hume (both on 28 goals) currently.
The 34-year-old will be eager to mark the occasion with a goal or two and considering his record against the Islanders, it would take a brave man to bet against him. Chhetri has netted three times in as many matches against Mumbai.