*** ----> Emotional Indian legend Chhetri bows out with Kuwait draw | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Emotional Indian legend Chhetri bows out with Kuwait draw

AFP | Kolkata

The Daily Tribune - www.newsofbahrain.com

Thousands cheered a tearful Sunil Chhetri off the pitch after his last match for India yesterday, bringing to a close an international career that put him among the world’s all-time leading scorers. Nearly 59,000 fans came to watch the captain’s swan song in Kolkata a 0-0 draw against Kuwait in a World Cup qualifier a remarkable turnout in a country where football comes a distant second to cricket in popularity.

The 39-year-old forward scored 94 goals for India over a career spanning nearly two decades, behind only Cristiano Ronaldo, Iran’s retired Ali Daei and Lionel Messi in the all-time international scorers’ list. Fans flocked to the stadium hours before gates opened to chant, sound bullhorns and dance in the baking afternoon heat.

Fans roared during Chhetri’s fleeting opportunities on the ball but otherwise, the atmosphere in the stands was subdued. “Referee don’t blow the whistle, otherwise Sunil Chhetri will leave us,” said one banner hanging from the stands. Another showed a stooped Chhetri carrying a giant football daubed with the saffron, white and green of India’s flag.

But his 151st and final appearance failed to help India to victory over Kuwait in the Asian World Cup qualifier. Chhetri’s best chance in the 55th minute came to nothing when a pass from Brandon Fernandes was intercepted by the Kuwait keeper.