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Asian Cup at different level altogether: Chhetri

| | Kolkata

The Intercontinental Cup triumph was an achievement in itself but the Asian Cup next year would be a different ball game, Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri said on Tuesday.

"It (Intercontinental Cup) was a great preparatory tournament for us. We don't play teams like Kenya and New Zealand everyday. It was a different challenge. No matter how much we improve, it might still be less," Chhetri told reporters after receiving the Indian Player of Year at the Football Players Association of India Awards here.

"Let me correct you, with due respect to Kenya and New Zealand the teams that are competing against us in the Asian Cup - Thailand, Bahrain and UAE - they are at least two-three levels up. It's a different level altogether."

Chhetri said it's not about getting carried away but to keep their heads down and work hard.

"Where we want to reach is very very far. We are just taking small steps. There is no point getting carried away. We should work hard keeping our heads down and try to keep improving ourselves."

The talismanic India captain netted eight goals in the title-winning Intercontinental Cup campaign in Mumbai and also played his milestone 100th match in India colours.

He also became joint second highest international goal scorer among active players along with Argentine superstar Lionel Messi with his 64th strike.

Chhetri, however, said his best strike is yet to come and he's hoping that it comes in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup from January 5-February 1 in the UAE.

"I can't think of my favourite goal right now. Hopefully when I score in the Asian Cup that will be my favourite goal. But my favourite defender is Mahesh Gawli and Anwar Ali were two of my favourite defenders I played against or with.

"I'm really really happy that I scored that many goals for my country. I am more proud that I've played 100 games for my country. That is huge for me and my family," he said.

 
 
 
 
 

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