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2022 World Cup qualifiers: Sunil Chhetri becomes first India international to score in three decades


Did you know that Sunil Chhetri is the only Indian footballer to have scored a goal in three different decades …

Scoring goals and setting records for the Indian national team is nothing new for skipper Sunil Chhetri.

The Indian skipper passed UAE’s Ali Mabkhout and Argentine superstar Lionel Messi on Monday to become the second-highest active international scorer (74) by scoring a brace in the joint 2022 World Cup and Asian Cup qualifiers 2023 in India against Bangladesh in Doha, Qatar.

But reclaiming second place on the list of top international scorers isn’t the only record he wrote on Monday. With his brace against the Bangla Tigers, Chhetri is now the only Indian player to have scored a goal in three different decades.

Sunil Chhetri

Sunil Chhetri’s first international goal came against Cambodia on August 17, 2007, during the Nehru Cup held at Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi. The talismanic forward scored a brace as the Blue Tigers beat Cambodia 6-0.

He subsequently scored 72 more goals over the next 14 years wearing the Indian jersey. His first goal in the previous decade came on October 8, 2010 in a friendly match against Vietnam at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune. He scored a hattrick as India won 3-1.

Ahead of the goals against Bangladesh on Monday, Chhetri’s last international goal came against Oman in India’s joint first qualifying match for the 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Games held in Guwahati on September 5. 2019. Chhetri put India ahead in the first half, but Oman came back in the second half and scored two goals to win the draw.

Dated Opponent Location Goals Decade
August 17, 2017 Cambodia New Delhi 2 2000s
October 8, 2010 Vietnam Pune 3 2010s
June 7, 2021 Bangladesh Doha 2 2020s

It took 641 days for Chhetri to score his next international goal after that, but it would have been worth it.

How is India doing in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers?

India started their World Cup qualifying streak with a narrow 2-1 loss to Oman at home, followed by a historic and goalless draw against Asian champions Qatar in Doha. In their third and fourth games, the Blue Tigers drew 1-1 with Bangladesh and Afghanistan, followed by a 1-0 loss to Oman away from home. How is India doing in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers?

They resumed their campaign losing 0-1 to Qatar on June 3 and have now beaten Bangladesh 2-0 in their seventh group stage game. In their final game, the Blue Tigers face Afghanistan on June 15. All the matches of the Indian group are organized by Qatar.

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