Updated May 24th, 2024 at 20:21 IST

'It's going to be emotional': Igor Stimac says Sunil Chhetri will receive a memorable farewell

Indian football team head coach Igor Stimac anticipates fans from across the country will fill the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on June 6.

Sunil Chhetri | Image:PTI
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Indian football team head coach Igor Stimac anticipates fans from across the country will fill the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata for the World Cup qualification match against Kuwait on June 6. This match will also serve as the final international appearance for the legendary captain Sunil Chhetri.

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Igor Stimac on Sunil Chhetri's farewell match

The game against Kuwait will conclude Chhetri's illustrious 19-year international career, during which he became India's top goal-scorer with 94 goals. Chhetri will retire as India's most-capped player, having competed in 151 matches by the end of this farewell game.

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A victory against Kuwait would also significantly boost India's chances of advancing to the third round of World Cup qualifiers for the first time in history.

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"Having in mind the importance of the game -- with us being perhaps only a win away from qualifying for the third round for the first time, and it being Sunil Chhetri's farewell game -- we expect the Salt Lake Stadium to be packed," Stimac said.

"I am sure that our supporters will reach Kolkata from all parts of India to help our boys win the game and say thanks and goodbye to Sunil. I am very confident it's going to be emotional and hopefully, we will find a way to celebrate together after the final whistle," he said in a release from All India Football Federation.

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The team has been in a training camp here for nearly two weeks. The first week primarily concentrated on improving fitness levels, as the players were coming off the tail end of a busy season. This period included numerous physical tests and aerobic sessions.

"The boys are doing well. It has been proven more than once that a long camp always helps us. We are working on various aspects of the game, both offensive and defensive," said the head coach.

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"Our fitness levels are getting better each day, and now we enter the phase of working on our tactics. From Monday onwards, we are going to work on positioning, set pieces and transitions." The Blue Tigers were originally supposed to depart for Kolkata on June 2, but have advanced their travel to the West Bengal capital on May 29 to get a full week of stay in the city and adjust to the conditions better.

"It's obviously hot and humid here, but we enjoy every training session. The facilities and hospitality are amazing here. But still, we have decided to leave for Kolkata a few days earlier than planned so we can adjust to the humidity better and prepare for the crucial game," said Stimac. 

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(With inputs from PTI)

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Published May 24th, 2024 at 20:21 IST