Indian Football Captain Sunil Chhetri Celebrates Growing Interest in Indian Football after Winning Three Trophies in 2023

Sunil Chhetri, the captain of the Indian men’s football team, expressed his delight at the rising love for Indian football in recent times, as the team clinched three consecutive trophies in 2023. Chhetri stated that Indian football hasn’t experienced such momentum in the last two decades.

The Blue Tigers’ victory over Kuwait in the SAFF Championship final in Bengaluru garnered immense support from fans in the stadium and on social media. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, acknowledging the team’s success, announced the participation of both the Indian men’s and women’s football teams in the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, scheduled for September, as per a press release from the Indian Super League (ISL).

The Indian team’s calendar for the next six months is packed with crucial tournaments, including the King’s Cup in Thailand, Merdeka Tournament in Malaysia, the Asian Games in China, and the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers in October.

A major milestone for the Indian team is the AFC Asian Cup in January, where they will participate in Asia’s premier football competition for back-to-back editions for the first time.

Chhetri noted the remarkable growth in interest in Indian football off the field, attributing it to the team’s recent achievements. The surge in energy and support from fans is the strongest he has witnessed in recent times.

He expressed his excitement for the Asian Games, considering it a significant opportunity for the Indian football team to face high-quality opponents on a grand stage. As the Asian Games is an U-24 tournament this year, allowing only three senior players to participate, young talents will have a chance to showcase their skills and impress the national team’s head coach.

India was drawn into a challenging group alongside China, Bangladesh, and Myanmar for the Asian Games. Chhetri highlighted that there are no easy matches at such a prestigious event, emphasizing China’s growth as a top team in Asia.

Regarding the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers, India was grouped with defending Asian champions Qatar, Kuwait, and the winner of the round one match between Afghanistan and Mongolia. Chhetri acknowledged the mixed feelings about the draw and stressed the team’s commitment to approaching each game with confidence and dedication, leaving a lasting culture of effort and determination in the dressing room.

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