The name at front is always more important than the one on the back. Nevertheless, when it comes to the Indian National team, fans would point out that it is the Captain that keeps the team ticking more often than not. Undoubtedly, Sunil Chhetri is the best attacker that India has and without him, the Indian team certainly would up in a struggle to score goals. If fans conceive of Manchester United without Rooney, Real Madrid without Ronaldo or Barcelona without Messi, the teams are not at their very best as they would be with them.
If you look at India’s performances in the Internationals since 2013, they have scored a total of 22 goals of which Chhetri has scored 11, exactly fifty percent of the goals. His quality on the ball is exemplary and to a large extent the success of the Indian National Team depends on the talismanic striker.
In the second match of World Cup 2018 qualifiers group against Guam, Chhetri scored his 50th goal and become the only Indian to reach that mark.
Roughly it could also be said that if the opposition succeeds in blocking Chhetri in the game, then India has a lower probability of scoring. Chhetri has scored all four goals this year for India in the four games that India has played which indicates his superb form and also the amount of pressure that rests on his shoulders As much as it is a blessing to have Chhetri for the National squad, perhaps it’s also a curse.
Yes, India is dependent on Chhetri perhaps a little too much. India’s concern does not lie only with the dependency on the striker but also on another great deal of issues. The Indian defenders are hugely inexperienced and the midfielders yet to thrive on their attacking role. Hence, the onus is on the strikers to rescue the team from difficult situations.
Currently, India is in a bad position at the World Cup 2018 qualifiers losing both their games. The blue tigers have about two and a half months before they play their next qualifier against the toughest opponents in the group, Iran. The game will definitely be a very tough one, despite the fact that it will be played in India as the Iranians are placed almost a 100 ranks above them and are also considered one of the best in Asian football. The game will become further difficult for the Indians, given their heavy reliance on Sunil Chhetri.
So, what can India do? Obviously, they cannot make a huge amount of difference as it would be impossible to overturn the inexperienced players to become experienced in this short period of time. But, what can be done is lowering the burden from the captain’s shoulders and that will only happen when the rest of the team steps-up to play the best 90 minutes of their life.
Unless the whole team steps-up its game after the break, India should be ready to say goodbye to the World Cup 2018.