Sunil Chhetri: India’s Messi seeks to sign off with a World Cup milestone

The forward may be familiar only at home but his last act of an international career spanning 19 years can make history

There is a debate about why India did not take their place at the 1950 World Cup. The longstanding belief that Fifa’s refusal to allow the team to play barefoot has largely been booted into touch. It is more likely that the All India Football Federation did not consider the mammoth trip to Brazil to play in a fledgling competition as worth the time and expense, especially when they had to prepare for the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki.

There is no debate, however, over the status of Sunil Chhetri after he announced his retirement in May. If all goes according to plan on Thursday, his last act in an international career spanning 19 years will be to make history. If India beat Kuwait in the penultimate round of games in Group A then there is every chance they will progress to the final round of World Cup qualification for the first time since there was such a thing.

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