Even Quentin Tarantino couldn’t have written a better script. Sunil Chhetri, a national hero, pleaded his fellow countrymen to come and watch his team play in the stadium after a low attendance in India’s 5-0 win over Chinese Taipei in the Intercontinental Cup. By the end of the tournament, Chhetri had played his 100th international match, won India the tournament, and equalled the record of Lionel Messi for the number of international goals.
India swept aside Kenya at the Mumbai Sports Arena to lift the Intercontinental Cup at the Mumbai Sports Arena today and Chhetri, who scored twice, was the hero. Kenya huffed and puffed, put countless crosses and sprinted till they ran out of gas, only to be beaten by a spirited man and his team.
The first goal came in the seventh minute, a flick from a free-kick. In the 28th minute, Chhetri tracked a long-ball by Anas Edathodika,slid past the Kenyan defenders, let the ball bounce once, and unleashed a strike into the right-bottom corner to match levels with Messi. After that, he ran to the spectators, who answered his call to come to stadium and support the team with full-house, and blew them a kiss as a gesture of thanks. In response, Mumbai roared. The Mumbai Football arena that seats 18,000 was reportedly full-house.
Chhetri’s latest feat has drawn him level with the Argentine and placed him next only to Ronaldo on the list of active players. Chhetri was fantastic throughout the tournament. In the four matches, he has scored eight goals, including a hat-trick against Chinese Taipei. While he scored two goals against Kenya in his 100th international match, one goal came against New Zealand in the last league game of Intercontinental Cup.