A three-pointer will be the best farewell gift for Sunil Bhai, says Subhasish Bose

KOLKATA: While the City of Joy has been the Blue Tigers’ home for the past week, Subhasish Bose is perhaps the one feeling most at home. A local boy, the India left-back and captain of Mohun Bagan Super Giant, with whom he lifted the ISL Shield at the Salt Lake Stadium merely a few weeks ago, is all geared up for arguably the biggest match he’s set to play at the iconic stadium. The 28-year-old spoke to the media before Monday’s training session at the Salt Lake.

“The match against Kuwait is hugely important for us. It is a golden opportunity to create history in Indian football. After all, India could never reach Round 3 of the World Cup qualifiers. A victory in this match would also ensure our place in the 2027 Asian Cup final rounds,” said Bose.

And apart from Sunil Chhetri, few know better the significance of playing at the Asian Cup than Bose, who featured in both the final tournaments in UAE 2019 and Qatar 2023, starting in five of India’s six matches.

But should India qualify for the next round of World Cup Qualifiers, it would be uncharted territory for each and every Indian player.

“The motivation level among the players is higher than usual; they all know this will be Sunil bhai’s farewell match and there is an urge among all of us to make it memorable. We all want to win this match, a farewell gift for Sunil bhai.

“Sunil Bhai is a role model and an inspiration for many youngsters, who joined the national team much later. It’s a special match, indeed. But it’s also an India match; we are all playing for India and will do everything for an Indian victory. We want to win this match to make 140 crore people in this country happy,” said Bose.

The defender, who debuted in 2018, has shared the national team jersey with Chhetri for six years. Having seen plenty of players come and go in the national camp during his time, Bose shared his opinion on the unfillable void left by the Indian captain.

“We have many talented strikers in the team. Chhangte, Manvir, Rahim. They are good, and given the opportunity and game time, they are capable of delivering the goods. The absence of Sunil bhai will definitely create a void. He treated all of us like younger brothers and guided us in every way. We have all learnt a great deal from him. But I have seen that things change with the time. There are players in the current Indian team who have leadership qualities; some of them are captaining their club sides and doing well in their areas.”

Bose shared that the Blue Tigers feel confident ahead of the Kuwait game thanks to a lengthy camp in the humid weather, helping them get accustomed to the match conditions and building team chemistry. India beat Kuwait in the reverse fixture in November last year, which is the reason they find themselves in the second spot in the group in a relatively advantageous position.

“If we are confident to win this match, it is not because we won the away match against Kuwait. While the three-pointer in the previous meeting gave us the necessary boost, we have also found a three-week period to prepare for this outing. In between, we didn’t do well (against Qatar and Afghanistan). We didn’t find much time to train together because of domestic commitments. Now, the longer camp has helped us to know each other better, to develop better understanding. Moreover, we will play in front of a home crowd….the Kolkata crowd is amazing. I am sure they will continue to inspire us for 90 minutes.

“Kuwait are a good team. They have some fine players, especially on the wings, who have the necessary pace. A few of them are capable of firing accurate long rangers. They have a strong defence, too. Our main aim would be to play compact football and make the best use of the talented players we have in the attacking third. We have to keep our patience. After all, we have some good attackers, and we should be able to score and turn the match in our favour,” concluded Bose.

Also read: Day of comebacks as Punjab FC, Chennaiyin, FC Goa, East Bengal FC secure crucial results

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