Sunil Chhetri closes in on Lionel Messi with goal on his 150th appearance


Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri closed in on Lionel Messi with a goal on his 150th international appearance during the FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier match against Afghanistan. The goal came from a penalty kick awarded after Afghanistan’s Haroon Amiri committed a handball offence. Manvir received the ball on the right flank and delivered a cross to Chhetri, but Amiri’s hand intercepted, leading to the penalty. Sunil Chhetri confidently converted the penalty, sending the ball past Azizi despite his dive to the right, igniting the crowd at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium.

This remarkable goal marked Chhetri’s 94th goal in his 150th appearance, an unprecedented achievement, as he has now scored in every milestone appearance from his 1st to his 150th. It came at a crucial moment for India, providing a much-needed boost after several missed opportunities early in the game. The Telangana-born player has now bagged a goal in each of his 25th, 50th, 75th, 100th, 125th and 150th matches representing the country. Captain Chhetri spoke to about his glorious career and reflected on his journey thus far.

“When I started, it never occurred to me that I could play for the country one day. In fact, even a few days back, I was not aware that I was on the verge of such a record. When you pause and think about it, it’s an unbelievable feat. I’m very fortunate, extremely thankful, and highly privileged to be in this state. I think I’m the only one to play 150 games for the country in India. I’m really fortunate that I got such an opportunity,” stated Chhetri in the interview. He added, “When I was playing the Subroto Cup in Delhi, I didn’t even think or dream that I would play for the country.”

“I wasn’t aware of this stat. If you ask any player, they will not be thinking about such stats. Even if they know some stats, the moment the kick-off whistle goes, they will forget about it,” he shared.

On being asked about his most memorable and difficult game so far on the international stage, Chhetri recalled, “For a very strange reason, there was an AFC Challenge Cup after the 2011 AFC Asian Cup that we played in Myanmar. That was the first step towards qualification for the Asian Cup. We played horribly and ended up losing a match that we should not have lost. That was one of the big reasons why we missed out in 2015.”

“I think the Myanmar game, in particular, we didn’t turn up at all. And what was at stake is exactly why I think it was one of the most difficult games. Not because of the opponents, not for any other reason, but we later realised what an opportunit

Published By:

Saurabh Kumar

Published On:

Mar 26, 2024


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