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Sunil Chhetri Equals Messi’s Record Of International Goals As India Win The SAFF Championship

India Win The SAFF Championship
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On Saturday, India’s captain of the Blue Tigers equaled Lionel Messi’s record after scoring his 80th International goal as a refined India defeated Nepal 3-0 to win their eighth SAFF Championship title.

India’s opening fixture in the 2021 edition of the SAFF Championship kicked off with a 1 – 1 draw against Bangladesh which was then followed up with a goalless draw against Sri Lanka. Team India then switched gears after the game against Sri Lanka as they went on to defeat Nepal 1 – 0 and then hammered the hosts Maldives 3 – 1 to book their place in the final against Nepal. 

After a goalless first half against Nepal in the final, India took things to another level in the second half with two quick fire goals right after the restart. Sunil Chhetri was on the scoresheet again after scoring a brilliant header from a Pritam Kotal cross to reach 80 international goals. Soon, Suresh Singh doubled India’s lead when he slotted in a low cross from Yasir Mohammad. During the final few minutes of the game, substitute Sahal Abdul Samad tore his way through the Nepal defense to score India’s third and put the game to bed.


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This victory also marked India’s first title triumph under head coach Igor Stimac who has faced criticism in recent matches for his side’s inability to win games. However, Stimac’s players delivered the results the teams’ fans have been waiting for. This cup triumph also made Stimac the third foreign coach after Jiti Pesek and Stephen Constantine to clinch a title with the Blue Tigers. 

With four goals to his name in the tournament, Sunil Chhetri picked up the top scorer and the man of the tournament awards, his four goals took Sunil on level with Lionel Messi as the second-highest goal-scorer in international football (active players).


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In the post-match interview, Chhetri gave credits to the youngsters for making the SAFF Championship win so special. He said, “ Look at the youngsters, it feels good for all of them, It’s all due to their hard work. We were here for 20 days till the final, staying on an island, riding the waves every day for practice sessions and matches. We made it special as we were not so good in the first two games. It was tough from there to come up and play the way we did”.


[Image Credit: Indian Football]