Sunil Chhetri becomes first Indian to register 50 goal contributions in ISL

The Bengaluru FC captain lauded the team’s character to have picked up all three points after being shaken by the injury to teammate Ashique Kuruniyan.

By Utathya Nag ·

Bengaluru FC’s 2-1 win over Odisha FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) on Thursday added another feather to Sunil Chhetri’s cap as he became the first Indian player in the history of the competition to register 50 goal contributions (42 goals and eight assists).

The 36-year-old Chhetri scored Bengaluru FC’s first goal of the night with a thumping header to become only the second player in ISL history to breach the 50-goal contributions mark after former FC Goa forward Ferran Corominas. The Spaniard has 48 goals and 16 assists.

With the victory, Bengaluru FC also moved up to third in the ISL points table. But what could have been an almost perfect day at the office for Carles Cuadrat’s men was spoilt by a horrific injury sustained by youngster Ashique Kuruniyan.

The 23-year-old Kuruniyan fractured his chin after an on-field collision with Odisha’s Jerry Mawihmingthanga early in the second half and had to be rushed to hospital.

After the match, Chhetri said he was happy with the team’s win and his own achievement but was concerned about his young Bengaluru and India team-mate’s wellbeing.

“I am extremely worried and am keeping my fingers crossed. I wasn’t close to the incident but everyone who saw it said it was very bad,” Chhetri said.

“We were getting some information that his cheekbone is gone. It didn’t look good at all,” he added.

The club later confirmed on social media that Ashique had suffered multiple fractures on his face.

The incident also had a big impact on the narrative of the match. Leading 1-0 at the time of Ashique’s injury, the apparent severity of the injury, Chhetri admitted, shook the Bengaluru FC players a bit allowing Odisha to equalise and come back into the contest.

The Blues, however, rallied to find their grip and found a late winner through Cleiton Silva.

“After the news spread about the severity of Ashique’s injury, we were jittery. We composed ourselves and thankfully got all three points,” Chhetri observed.

Bengaluru FC, over the years, have proved to be a hard team to crack. The 2018-19 champions have almost always managed to dig deep in face of adversity and come out with the points.

“You can be technically a good team but if you don’t work hard, you’ll win nothing. The emphasis from day one was that everyone should come back to defend and be resolute as a team. Any team which aspires to win championships have to do that day in and day out and that’s what we try to do,” Chhetri said, commenting on the team’s never-say-die attitude.