Sunil Chhetri: Focus is to get fitter and steer clear of injuries
The upcoming edition of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) is going to introduce the players and staff to a new set of challenges on account of the ongoing pandemic. Bengaluru FC skipper Sunil Chhetri is totally aware of the situation and knows very well where the priorities lie at present.
“There are quite a few challenges in this season. The focus is now to get fitter and be ready. We will not be able to play at the Kanteerava. That is a huge disappointment. Our fans travel wherever we play. Not having them will be a big miss. Moreover, staying in a bubble is not easy but it is needed,” said the Blue Tigers skipper during an online interaction.
“The bio-bubble rules are very strict. But it's a small price to pay to play a league. Not many people enjoy the benefits that we do. From a larger perspective, it is great what we are doing. Although, staying five months in a bubble will not be easy. We will try our best to adhere to all rules,” he added.
The Hero ISL’s leading Indian goal-scorer also reckons that the addition of two of Kolkata’s biggest clubs will make the league more competitive. “Mohun Bagan and East Bengal coming in is a huge thing. The clubs are monumental in stature. It is a huge thing for them to play in the ISL. It will be very competitive with the addition of those two teams,” said Chhetri.
The seventh season of the league will be entirely played in coastal-paradise Goa with the JL Nehru Stadium (Fatorda), GMC Stadium (Bambolim) and Tilak Maidan Stadium (Vasco) being the venues, which may give FC Goa the edge over other teams. Chhetri, however, thinks otherwise and offers solid reasoning.
“As far as home advantage is concerned, I think this edition will be a level-playing field for all teams. Goa might have an advantage but they are not going to have their fans. So again, it will be a level-playing field for all clubs,” he said.
As to the team’s targets for the 2020-21 season, Chhetri doesn’t want to look too far ahead. “Every club wants to win a trophy. But when you start a season you don't think about `let's go and win a trophy`. It's more about being a better team. But at the same time, we want to and aspire to win trophies. [Right now], it is better to take game by game,” he said.
“The coach has got all he wanted. The onus is now on us to remain fit and give him the whole squad to choose from. This year it is going to be more important than ever. We are going to need every one of them. We have to steer clear of injuries and if we do so we have a good chance,” the talismanic striker added.
Bengaluru FC, champions in 2018-19, open their campaign against FC Goa on November 22 at Fatorda.