For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind. True that!! But for Indian football skipper, Sunil Chhetri, it costs more than that. India’s all-time top-scorer has lost the captain’s armband permanently over an alleged feud with coach Stephen Constantine. After taking over the national team in 2015, Stephen Constantine has handed over the captaincy of the team to goalkeeper Subrata Paul, the first-choice keeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, and Sunil Chhetri on a rotational basis. For Saturday’s friendly against China, he named defender Sandesh Jhingan as the skipper for the first time.
According to TOI, this was done to send a message to Chhetri that Constantine is the real boss of the team.
During the announcement, Constantine remarked, “I think the captain has to reflect the attitude of the coach. Sandesh first played for me, four years ago. He is a fighter and a leader. He gives everything on the pitch, which most of the players do.”
Reports say that Chhetri is one of the players unhappy with Constantine. In October last year, five senior players had marched their way to All India Football Federation (AIFF), demanding the suspension of Constantine as they feel he is not tactically well-equipped to guide Indian team at the 2019 Asian Cup in UAE. Although AIFF declined their request and made it clear that Constantine will see out his contract.
The AIFF also extended Constantine’s contract until the end of Asian Cup 2019. The reason is visible, Constantine has done a descent job in his second stint with the national team. India moved from 173rd position to the 97th position in the rankings, under the guidance of Constantine.
The report added that Chhetri prefers former Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca at the helm. It’s no surprise that Chhetri prefers Roca as the Bengaluru FC striker has a good working relationship with the Spaniard, who chose not to extend his contract with the club this year for personal reasons.
With Chhetri making clear about his attitude towards Constantine and his feelings about his coach clear to AIFF, it appears that he lost his captaincy altogether.