Sunil Chhetri joins elite group of Indian players to have scored a hat-trick against Pakistan
Just three days after clinching the Hero Intercontinental Cup in Bhubaneswar, the Blue Tigers unleashed their dominance upon arch-rivals Pakistan in a resounding 4-0 win, led by hat-trick hero Sunil Chhetri.
Three days after clinching the Hero Intercontinental Cup in Bhubaneswar, the Blue Tigers unleashed their dominance upon arch-rivals Pakistan in a resounding 4-0 win, led by hat-trick hero Sunil Chhetri.
Scoring a hat-trick in a match is special, but scoring it against arch-rivals makes it even more special. The Indian captain joins an exclusive list of elite players by finding the net three times against Pakistan in the opening encounter of the SAFF Championship 2023 at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru.
Here we look at the three Indian players who have scored a hat-trick against Pakistan.
#1 Puran Bahadur Thapa (India 3-1 Pakistan, Colombo Cup 1954)
Not many can recall, but Puran Bahadur Thapa was a renowned footballer during his time. The striker from the Indian Army became a household name in India when he scored a hat-trick against Pakistan at the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata during the 1954 Colombo Cup. Notably, it was the first hat-trick by an Indian in international football.
The esteemed Sailen Manna served as the captain of the side when India defeated Pakistan 3-1, securing the Colombo Cup for the third time. Bahadur Thapa astounded the Pakistan defence with his superb hat-trick.
Despite not having a long career in international football, he served Gorkha Brigade and Services for many years. He declined numerous offers from Kolkata clubs, opting to remain in the security of his army job. After his football career was over, he excelled as a soldier and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel after his football career concluded.
#2 IM Vijayan (India 5-2 Pakistan, South Asian Games 1999)
Anyone who’s followed Indian Football throughout the 90s will tell you what a legend Vijayan was. The Kerala-born striker was hailed as one of the most gifted Indian footballers of his generation and, alongside Bhaichung Bhutia, formed one of the deadliest forward lines ever witnessed in the Indian Football team.
Vijayan displayed a remarkable ability to score goals against Pakistan, finding the back of the net nine times out of his 29 international goals against the Pakistani Falcons, including a hat-trick and two braces.
His most outstanding performance in national colours came at the 1999 South Asian Games in Nepal against Pakistan when he scored that famous hat-trick. Vijayan's mesmerizing performance left the Pakistani defence in disarray as he effortlessly found the back of the net on three occasions. India won the game with a score of 5-2.
#3 Sunil Chhetri (India 4-0 Pakistan, SAFF Championship 2023)
Chhetri, one of the most renowned names in Indian football and the current captain of the national team, has once again made headlines with his remarkable hat-trick against Pakistan on Wednesday. The two sides met after a five-year gap in a highly anticipated clash, and Chhetri showcased his exceptional goal-scoring ability by scoring a treble that secured a comprehensive victory for India.
Goal No. 8️⃣8️⃣, 8️⃣9️⃣ and 9️⃣0️⃣ for @chetrisunil11 🔥👑 @UdantaK’s first goal for the #BlueTigers 🐯 since 2018 👏🏽😍— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) June 22, 2023
🇮🇳 4-0 🇵🇰
Full highlights on our YouTube channel 👉🏽 https:/t.co/hlPtPYiabZ#SAFFChampionship2023 🏆 #INDPAK #IndianFootball ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/vhTcu3GhpD
Chhetri opened the scoring on the night in the 10th minute, taking advantage of a mistake by the Pakistani goalkeeper. The all-time leading goalscorer for India, then converted two more goals from spot kicks in the 16th and 73rd minute, respectively.
This was Chhetri's fourth international hat-trick and with this, he surpassed Malaysia's Mokhtar Dahari to rise to the fourth position on the chart of the most international goals scored.