In a spectacular display of skill and determination, Sunil Chhetri, the captain of the Indian football team, led his side to a resounding 4-0 victory over Pakistan in the opening match of the SAFF Championship held in Bengaluru on Wednesday.
Chhetri’s outstanding performance not only secured the win for India but also propelled him to the position of second-highest goal-scorer among Asian players in international football, second only to Iran’s Ali Daei.
From the very beginning, India demonstrated their experience and superiority on the field, showcasing their cohesion and determination. Despite pockets of resistance from Pakistan, India’s relentless pursuit of victory proved too much for their opponents, particularly on a rain-soaked night at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium. Chhetri, who had already shown glimpses of his remarkable talent in the Intercontinental Cup final against Lebanon, elevated his performance even further on his home ground.
It took just 10 minutes for Chhetri to open the scoring with a superb field goal, setting the tone for the match. Just six minutes later, he extended India’s lead by expertly converting a penalty kick. With these goals, Chhetri firmly established India’s dominance over Pakistan. Despite India’s continued pressure, the resilient Pakistan defence managed to hold their ground and prevent further additions to the scoreline in the first half. Although India missed a couple of opportunities to increase their lead, the difficult nature of those chances made conversion challenging.
Unfortunately, India’s coach Igor Stimac received a red card for obstructing a Pakistan player during a throw-in, forcing him to leave the dugout for the rest of the match. Despite this setback, India’s momentum remained unscathed in the second half as they continued their relentless attacking onslaught. In the 74th minute, Chhetri was fouled inside the box by Pakistan defenders, resulting in a penalty kick. The Indian skipper confidently converted the penalty, completing his hat-trick and effectively securing an insurmountable lead for India.
India’s misery for Pakistan was compounded in the 81st minute when Udanta Singh scored another goal. Udanta had the chance to make a quick and decisive run toward the goal thanks to Sandesh Jhingan’s perfectly timed through pass. Udanta successfully placed the ball beyond the Pakistan goalkeeper’s reach with skill and speed, extending India’s lead and securing their comprehensive victory.
“Happy to start the tournament with a clean sheet. Matches under these circumstances are never simple. In his post-game interview, Chhetri stated, “This is what we play for, happy people turned up, this is amazing, and this is what we play for.”
The crowd of 22,860 spectators, who braved the heavy downpour to fill the stadium, responded with great enthusiasm and excitement to India’s impressive performance against Pakistan. Despite the challenging weather conditions, the team’s dominant display thrilled the fans, who bore witness to a remarkable performance.
With their confidence soaring after the victory over Pakistan, India’s next challenge awaits them in the form of Nepal in their second Group A fixture on Saturday. The team will aim to maintain their winning momentum and build upon their success as they progress through the tournament.
Overall, India’s triumph over Pakistan sends a powerful message about the team’s intent and highlights their quality and potential. With a strong