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Bangladesh wary of Chhetri threat


Sunil Chhetri
 KOLKATA, Oct 12: No stranger to Indian football, Bangladesh assistant coach Stuart Watkiss on Saturday said it’s talismanic striker Sunil Chhetri who will keep his players on their toes in their World Cup qualifier against India here on Tuesday.

Laid low by a virus, Chhetri had to sit out of India’s gritty goal-less draw against Asian champions Qatar in Doha but he is set to return in the Group E match against Bangladesh here.

“Obviously, Sunil is the most dangerous player because of the amount of goals he has scored,” Watkiss said.

“He’s a super player, super player with a super goal-scoring record,” the 53-year-old said on Chhetri who had scored his goal number 72 in India’s 1-3 loss to Oman last month in Guwahati.

Watkiss was in charge of former I-League club Bharat FC in the 2015-16 season and showed Chhetri from close quarters.

“He hasn’t had many weaknesses... Of late, he seems to have gone from strength to strength from my time in India. It will be a challenge for our team (to stop him),” said Watkiss.

“You know, we respect him. We respect all the Indian players, we respect the Indian culture and stuff. But that’s it, we won’t give them too much respect.”

Bangladesh have come here on the back of a 0-2 loss to Qatar in Dhaka in their last match. They had lost 0-1 to Afghanistan in their campaign openers.

“We deserved something out of the game (versus Qatar). We created more chances than Qatar and possibly had the best opportunities,” the former Hull city development coach said.

India’s defence will be depleted with the injury blows to Sandesh Jhingan and Rahul Bheke and the Bangladesh assistant coach saw some hope of his side opening their account.

“Maybe, it’s a little advantage to us that those two central defenders are not playing... But we are still expecting a strong challenge.

“We think we can give India really good and competitive game. The way we performed against Qatar, if we can get to those levels again, then it should be a terrific game,” he said.

Bangladesh will rely on Mamunul Islam and captain Jamal Bhuyan in the midfield with the team having eight Under-23 players.

“Our defensive shape is good. We are good on the counter. There are young players who can spring a surprise. We have been let down by our finishing a bit. We need to work on that,” 30-year-old Mamunul said.

Kolkata Indian Super League franchise ATK had signed Mamunul in 2014 but did not play any match.

Having served Bangladesh for 13 years, Mamunul said he’s contemplating retirement.

“I will talk to the team management and might call it a day when India take on Bangladesh at home,” he said. – PTI

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