Talismanic Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri became the joint second highest international goal scorer among active players along with Argentine superstar Lionel Messi with his 64th strike for the country against Kenya in the Intercontinental Cup summit clash in Mumbai on Sunday.
Chhetri, who had come into the match with 62 goals, gave India the lead in the eighth minute before scoring the second goal in the 29th minute, which put him on par with Messi. He chested down a long pass from Anas Edathodika between two Kenyan defenders before firing in a low left-footer just inside the box that beat goalkeeper Patrick Matasi all ends up.
The 33-year-old Chhetri, who was playing in his 102nd international match, and Messi are behind leader and Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, who has 81 goals from 150 matches. Chhetri and Messi are currently in joint 21st in the all-time list of goal scorers as well. The Indian is just one goal below former Chelsea and Ivory Coast stalwart Didier Drogba (65 from 104 matches).
In terms of number of goals per match, Chhetri is better than Messi, arguably the best player in the world currently. Chhetri has scored 0.62 goals per match as against 0.52 of Messi (64 goals from 124 matches).
The Indian has also a better goal average than Cristiano (0.54 per match). Chhetri, who became only the second Indian to feature in 100 international matches after former skipper Bhaichung Bhutia, had earlier equaled Zlatan Ibrahamovic of Sweden and World Cup winner Brazilian Ronaldo in the match against New Zealand which India lost 1-2.Asked about his feat after the end of the match, Indian Captain Chhetri said, “It’s unfair to compare myself with Messi and Cristiano. I am a big fan of both. They are much bigger stars. I just want to score as many goals as possible for my country.”
Post the win in the final, Chhetri took to social media to thank fans for their support. “What a feeling! Thank you, India! This win is for the fans who filled the stands, cheered from home and backed and believed in us. The boys and staff pulled together and now it’s time to enjoy. We regroup soon because the road is long – very long,” the Indian skipper tweeted.