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India

Abuse us, criticise us ... but please watch us – Indian soccer captain Sunil Chhetri in plea to fans after only 2,569 turn up

The 33-year-old is disappointed with the turnout for their 5-0 victory over Taiwan in the Intercontinental Cup in Mumbai

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 June, 2018, 6:56am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 June, 2018, 9:46am

India’s soccer captain Sunil Chhetri has taken to social media to plead with fans to watch the national team after only 2,569 fans turned up to witness their match against Taiwan in the Intercontinental Cup.

The 33-year-old said in a video he posted: “Please come and support us, encourage us, watch us, abuse use, criticise us,” after India won 5-0 on Friday.

They also face New Zealand and Kenya in the tournament and Chhetri is hoping more fans from the cricket-mad nation will turn up at the Mumbai Football Arena after his plea. They face Kenya today and take on New Zealand on Thursday in the four-team tournament.

The stadium is used by Mumbai City FC and has a capacity of 18,000.

“To all of you, who have lost hope or don’t have any hope in Indian football, we request you to come and watch us in the stadium,” said Chhetri, who scored a hat-trick against Taiwan for 97th-ranked India. “It’s not fun to criticise and abuse on internet. Come to the stadium, scream at us, shout at us.

“Sometimes you guys think the level is not the same [as Europe] so why waste your time? I agree the level is not the same, not even close, but with our desire and determination, we will try our best to make your time worth it.”

Virat Kohli, captain of the Indian cricket team – a sport that would easily fill a 100,000-seater stadium for an international – supported Chhetri.

“To be called a proud sporting nation, we must accept and support all the sports equally,” Kohli said on Twitter.