Analysis

Why India captain Sunil Chettri wants the national team coach sacked

He is India’s ‘Captain Fantastic’ and the country’s record goalscorer. But Sunil Chettri was stripped of the captaincy by national team coach Stephen Constantine out of the blue ahead of their international friendly against Marcello Lippi’s China the other night. And it wasn’t long before the Indian legend and his teammates called for the English coach’s head! 

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Sunil Chettri has done what many Indian footballers couldn’t even have dreamt of a decade back. The young boy who grew up in India’s capital of Delhi started out his career with Indian football giants Mohun Bagan and grew the reputation of a deadly striker at a very young age.

It was only a matter of time before he was being touted as the successor for India’s legendary striker and national team captain Bhaichung Bhutia. Chettri filled the void left by Bhutia in the national team and did more. He joined MLS franchise Kansas City Wizards, becoming only the third player from the subcontinent to sign abroad, where he even played a pre-season friendly against Manchester United.

In 2012, he was made the captain of the national team — a role the now 34-year-old performed to perfection leading India to new heights. With 65 goals for the Blue Tigers, Chettri is in the elite company of Argentina legend Lionel Messi in the joint-second spot among leading active international goalscorers — and only behind Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo who has 81.

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