Bengaluru– Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri has said every minute felt like an hour during team’s famous 0-0 draw against Asian champions Qatar in a FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying match last year on this day.
India’s record goal-scorer Chhetri was ruled out of the match in Doha due to fever.
“Playing Asian champions Qatar in their own backyard in a World Cup qualifier was one of those dream-like scenarios. I could only watch the match from the four walls of my hotel room, completely glued to the TV and cheering the team on with all my heart,” Chhetri told the-aiff.com.
“I was ill. So much so that I couldn’t even go to the ground to watch. It was a torture to be left outside. Every minute went by like an hour. But, at the end, we registered a memorable result and things turned out to be rather ‘sweet’, in more ways than one,” he said.
“Since the draw was made, I was looking forward to the challenge. However, as we left for Doha, something just felt off inside my body. We reached the hotel, had our lunch and then I found out that I was down with fever.
“There were three days to go for the Qatar game and I tried to do everything I could to fight the flu. The thermometer replaced the ball as my best friend, I was isolated in my room and dal chawal was all my body could digest comfortably. As the rest of the boys began their preparation and training for the crucial match, I was fighting my battle against the mercury — hoping it would come down in time and allow me to play,” the 36-year old Bengaluru FC striker added.
Chhetri said he could not help but have sweets after the game as he was on cloud nine with the result.
“Nothing could hold me back now. I hugged everyone in the team one by one and I could see the jubilation on their faces. I am extremely particular about my diet and the boys know it — but after the match, even I was thinking ‘aaj toh meetha banta hai’ (Today calls for some sweets).
“I helped myself to some dessert. All of them were taking pictures and videos of me as if they’ve spotted a tiger in a jungle safari. And I understand their side — even I don’t even know the last time I had eaten anything sweet before that. And I have absolutely no regrets — the occasion completely called for it.” (IANS)