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Who Will Replace Sunil Chhetri In Indian Football Team?

Since 2005, when Sunil Chhetri, then a 20-year-old, first joined the Indian football team, the striker position has remained unchanged.

Edited By : Shashwat Nishant | May 16, 2024 21:00 IST
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Sunil Chhetri
Sunil Chhetri

May 16th, 2024 was a hard day for Indian football as one of the best if not the best players in the history of the nation announced his retirement from football. Sunil Chhetri announced that India’s FIFA World Cup qualifier match against Kuwait on June 6 will be his final game for the Blue Tigers.

Since 2005, when Sunil Chhetri, then a 20-year-old, first joined the Indian football team, the striker position has remained unchanged. This raises a crucial question: who will step into Chhetri’s shoes after his final game? With the country’s leading goal scorer at the forefront, the Indian football landscape has grown accustomed to having a reliable striker.

However, there’s now a shortage of out-and-out strikers, with many Indian Super League (ISL) teams relying on foreign center forwards to fill the void.

Promising Youth For Indian Football

Two promising candidates for India’s next number nine are Lallianzuala Chhangte and rising star Vikram Partap Singh from Mumbai City FC. During the ISL semi-final first leg, they showcased their potential by scoring three goals in stoppage time, overturning a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 against FC Goa.

With Chhetri’s impending departure, Indian football faces an urgent need to identify new goal-scoring sources, and 26-year-old Chhangte could provide a short-term solution. Known for his pace, skills, and technical prowess on the wing, he netted 10 goals and contributed six assists in the current ISL season. A false nine role might suit his abilities well.

Mumbai City’s championship victory this season was fueled by a potent attack, with Vikram Partap Singh playing a crucial role. He scored eight goals and provided four assists during the title-winning campaign, showcasing his potential from the wings.

Another contender is Rahim Ali from Chennaiyin FC, who has occasionally filled in for Chhetri as a substitute. He is the lone Indian player in recent memory to have played as a center forward for his club on occasion.

Also Read: Indian Football Icon Sunil Chhetri Announces Retirement

First published on: May 16, 2024 09:00 PM IST

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