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Young talent, team's consistency make Chhetri hopeful

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The emergence of young talent under Stephen Constantine's rotation policy and the Indian team's consistency in recent times make hopeful of a smooth build-up to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.

"We have been consistent and have a fairly impressive phase, but we need to keep challenging ourselves," Chhetri said during a chat.

qualified for the Asian Cup by beating in the qualifiers last October.

"A lot of youngsters have got their chances and it's nice to see so many of them wanting to make the most of it. It isn't my place to pick individuals out. We've all got to keep our heads down and work hard," the country's all-time highest scorer said.

The last time played in the continental tournament was in 2011, when they were knocked out in the first round after being thrashed by much-superior South Korea, and

Chhetri, though, managed to score a couple of goals in India's disastrous showing.

The 33-year-old striker feels playing a lot of matches would be an ideal build-up for the tournament taking place in the UAE.

"We need to get in as many games as possible as a unit in the build-up to the tournament. I am certain the and the federation have plans chalked out for how they want us to approach the Asian Cup.

Chhetri is particularly keen on playing more away games, to ensure that the 2011 disaster is not repeated.

He is currently playing for Bengaluru FC in the Indian (ISL) and asked about the team's impressive run in its debut season, a modest Chhetri simply attributed it to hard work.

"We work hard to be consistent, there's no real secret to reason of our success. That said, we've only reached the half-way mark in the ISL and we will soon be beginning our AFC Cup campaign.

"There's a lot of left to play for and lot to achieve. But like I said, we're a team that works hard and rallies around each other on and off the pitch."

Since its formation, Bengaluru FC's rise has been meteoric, and Chhetri has been an integral part of the club's two triumphs as well as its historic march to the AFC Cup final.

A lot has been said about the club's exemplary professionalism and asked about it, Chhetri said, "A lot has been said about the professionalism at Bengaluru FC but the key aspect for me is that the club is keen on improving with every passing day.

"Everyone at the club is making an effort to get better and that, for me, is a vital reason for our success. No one gets comfortable.

"I know for a fact that the day the season ends, the staff and management is in the next day to chalk out plans for the next season."

Life has been good post marriage to his long-time girlfriend

"Life has been good, to be honest. My wife is on top of her game with making sure everything is in order for me. The pressure is squarely on me.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, January 14 2018. 14:35 IST