Sunil Chhetri’s appeal to support Indian football team baffles coach Stephen Constantine

India’s 3-0 win vs Kenya in the second match of the Intercontinental Cup being held in Mumbai was notable for two reasons. Firstly, skipper Sunil Chhetri marked his 100th national team appearance with a wonderful brace.

Secondly, the captain’s heartfelt appeal to fans asking them to come and support the Indian football team in the stadium actually seemed to work: the Mumbai Football Arena was sold out and not even torrential rain could dull the atmosphere at the stadium.

However, national team coach Stephen Constantine took a slightly dim view on Chhetri’s social media post, saying that he felt that his side’s performances over the last few years should warrant good support regardless.

“I don’t feel we should be begging people to watch the national team. The response has been unbelievable. When the national team has been playing the manner we have been playing in the last three years it was disappointing to see the turnout in the first match,” he stated after the match, according to an AIFF press release.

“I expect the stands to be full in the next two matches,” he added.

Bigger crowd, more motivation

He was also full of praise for his side’s performance, with the win ensuring that the Indian football team have qualified for the final of the tournament.

“I want to congratulate the boys for a hard fought victory under difficult conditions. We didn’t play well in the first half. The win puts us in the final of the tournament. That’s what we wanted to achieve since the beginning.”

Defender Sandish Jhingan, who put in a solid performance in the backline, was happy at the turnout and said that it made the players want to be at their best.

“There is never any pressure to play in front of such a full crowd. It was extra motivation from the moment when we entered the stadium. We knew we had to deliver and we did,” Jhingan said.

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