India booked their berth for the 2019 Asian Cup, the continent’s premier tournament, with a strong 4-1 win over Macau on Wednesday.
But even as the team celebrated the triumph, Sunil Chhetri admitted that the failure to qualify for the 2015 Asian Cup still rankles him. The Indian football team captain is now determined to shine in the 2019 tournament after booking a ticket to UAE.
“I was there when we missed out in 2015 and that still hurts me,” Chhetri said after the match. “This is the tournament we play for. We get to rub our shoulders against best in Asia which we don’t get many times,” he added.
Rowllin Borges (28th minute) put India ahead in the first half before Sunil Chhetri (60th) and Jeje Lalpekhlua (90+2) found the net after the break.
Macau defender Man Fai Ho scored an own goal in the 70th minute. Nicholas Mario de Almeida Torro scored the lone goal for the visitors in the 37th minute.
Chhetri lauded his teammates for their performance. “Amazing feeling. We have worked hard for this. Quite a group. Good last 3 points, great feeling. Happy with the way we bounced back,” the striker said.
“Just four teams qualified. It shows our hard work. We will keep working hard. We can’t lose our cool. The goal we conceded was against the run of play. Balwant had great pace and set it up for me to finish,” he added.