MLS stint has boosted my confidence, says Chhetri

August 2nd, 2010 - 8:40 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 2 (IANS) India’s ace forward Sunil Chhetri feels that his stint with US Major League Soccer (MLS) club Kansas City Wizard has boosted his confidence ahead of the national team’s campaign in the Asian Cup.
Chhetri, who arrived in India Saturday, has been allowed by the Kansas team to join the national team’s training camp in Portugal for the Asian Cup in January. The striker will be on loan with the national team till January for the Doha event. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) will be compensating the player by paying him $75,000 for six months.

“The last three months have been very exciting. Playing in MLS was a great experience. It has boosted my confidence and I feel I have matured as a player,” said Chhetri.

Chhetri now wants to focus on the national team’s camp and will leave for Portugal Wednesday.

“I just want to do well with the national team. Bob Houghton is a great coach and I am confident that the national team will do well under him. It is great moment for Indian football and the team will surely do well in Doha,” said Chhetri.

For Chhetri, his 21 minutes against Manchester United in an exhibition match last month was once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“I never thought that I would be playing against the Red Devils and also end up on the winning side,” he said.

Chhetri was impressed with the facilities and hoped that even if India had 10 percent of those facilities, it would have done a world of good for the sport in the country.

“The facilities are great and I can assure you if we had even 10 percent of those, it would have been great for Indian football,” said Chhetri.

Chhetri, who was left out at the last minute from the list of Arjuna Award winners, doesn’t want to talk about the controversy. “I don’t want to comment on it. It happened when I was not even in India.”

According to a top official in the selection committee of the sports award, Chhetri along with defender Dipak Mondal were proposed for the coveted award. But Mondal was the preferred choice of the selectors on the basis of seniority and he became the first footballer to receive the Arjuna after a gap of eight years.

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