Amidst the speculation regarding Sunil Chettri’s loan move to Churchill Brothers,we look at his career graph that has been moving South for quiet a while now, his exploits with Kansas City and Sporting Club De Portugal and how the Striker could benefit Churchill brothers in their pursuit of the I League title
The year was 2007. Nehru Cup came back to enthrall the Indian football loving audience after a hiatus of ten long years. Very few knew about the national team then- the players, the coach and upcoming youngsters. Surprisingly against all odds, India went on to win its maiden Nehru Cup title courtesy some brilliant and dedicated performance on the pitch by the whole team, but there was one name which stood out and shone like a star. India found a new striker to pin it hopes on, as Baichung Bhutia was slowly getting on terms with his age. A young diminutive lad scored four cracking goals, set up crucial ones to see his side lift the coveted trophy. Although he had a long a way to go to substitute Baichung Bhutia upfront- the question on every football faithful in India was- Can Sunil Chettri be the best striker this country has ever seen?
Before we have a in depth look at his performance in Portugal, here is the quick graph of Chettri’s career so far (Goals v Time):
It is certainly not rocket science to figure out that the five foot seven lad has not been scoring goals away from India. Chettri started his career with The Mariners, who scouted his talent at the school level in Delhi and offered him trials at the club. Since then Chettri hasn’t looked back. From plying his trade at Mohun Bagan, Chettri was soon inducted in Sukhi’s JCT team and played full three seasons at the Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana. Before his first big money and ear grabbing move to the United States, Chettri played a season each for East Bengal and Dempo as well, scoring decent number of goals.
The Nepali born Indian Captain was signed up by Kansas City Wizards from Dempo SC. As we can see in the graph itself, the move did not reap expected fruits for the two time AIFF footballer of the year. Chettri only featured, and sometimes scored in the friendly matches. Albeit he was thrown into the mix when the Wizards took on Manchester United in a friendly match, Chettri wasn’t fielded in the 18 man squad for four months since joining the central state. He rarely made any appearance in big MLS games.
Chettri moved back to India as he joined big spenders Chirag United in the winter transfer window. He proved his goal scoring prowess as the Kolkata side finished the 2010/11 season strongly with the Indian captain scoring seven goals in as many games. The following season Mohun Bagan came calling and they signed the versatile Captain unleashing a deadly partnership with Odafa Okolie. Chettri was tactically used by Subrata Bhattacharya.
Then the big news spread like a wild fire in Indian print media. Sunil Chettri became only the third Indian to ply his trade on the European soil after Baichung and Salim. Chettri was signed up by Sporting Club de Portugal for their B side playing in Liga De Honra. Although, a very debatable move, Indian football followers were upbeat about his move.As expected, it was a “Deja Vu” of Kansas City days. Here is a quick sneak peek at his Sunil’s performance for the Sportiinguistas in De Honra.
Number of games total- 15
Number of games benched- 12
Number of minutes played as a substitute- 46’
Maximum time on the pitch- 39’ (Match lost)
As the news of Chetrri joining Churchill Brothers on loan creeps in, it seems to be sensible for both the parties. The Red Machines now have an experienced striker upfront, alongside already dangerous Henri Antchouet and Akram Moghrabi. With captain Beto in the middle, addition of Sunil Chettri to the ranks will add formidible teeth to their attacking line up against well drilled sides in the upcoming AFC Cup. The goan side sit pretty in the I-league table at the second spot with just one point behind teh leaders East Bengal and with two crucial games in hand. After the forgettable and humiliating defeat at the hands of second string Palestine side in Kochi last week, probably it is time Chettri does a self-assessment of his performance in the last few matches. Frankly, he was seen nowhere and had a below par performance during the FIFA friendly and he needs to spend more time on the pitch for his new team. The team is not in a position to try out new strikers in crucial matches such as AFC Challenge Cup qualifying. Frankly, the team currently doesn’t have a striker who can replace him. He will once again be leading the Blue Tigers for the upcoming AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers and his fans would be expecting the same zeal and dedication from the number eleven. Six years henceforth we ask the same question- Can he be the best striker this country has ever seen. The answer really lies in how Chettri shapes his career hereafter.