Cricket captain Virat Kohli led a campaign to urge fans to actively support Indian football after the country’s captain and leading goal-scorer Sunil Chhetri posted an emotional message on social media asking for help from fellow Indians.
India, ranked 97th in the world, beat Chinese Taipei 5-0 in the opening match of the Intercontinental Cup in Mumbai on Friday where less than 3000 people turned up to watch the game. That forced Chhetri, the third highest goal scorer in international football among active players behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, to upload a video to Twitter where he asked fans to support the team.
“To all of you, who have lost hope or don’t have any hope in Indian football, we request you to come and watch us at the stadium,” the 33-year-old said. “Abuse but make us feel relevant. I mean it’s not fun to criticise and abuse on the internet. Come to the stadium, do it on our face, scream at us, shout at us, abuse us, who knows one day we might change you guys, you might start cheering for us.”
That video has now been viewed half a million times with cricket captain Kohli asking their fans to do their bit to support Indian football with a similar passion. “To be called a proud sporting nation, we must accept and support all the sports equally,” Kohli said in his message on Twitter.
Tennis star Sania Mirza too gave her support to the Indian football team, asking for tickets to India’s matches.
India all-rounders Suresh Raina and Krunal Pandya also gave their support to the national footballers.
“Come let’s support our captain and Indian Football for the amazing efforts and progress, they truly deserve it!!!” Raina tweeted.
India next play Kenya on Monday and New Zealand on June 7.
According to a report by the Times of India, the 29-year-old arrived at a training facility at the Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai on Thursday morning with India assistant coach Sanjay Bangar.
Kohli is said to have spent a few hours at the indoor net facility and will be following a similar regime for the week to come.
The report further goes on to add that Kohli will undergo a fitness test on June 15, a day after the on-off Test against Afghanistan starts in Bengaluru. The right-handed batsman is expected to regain full fitness within two weeks and will be departing to Ireland with the rest of the Indian squad on June 23.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper was slated to undergo his maiden County stint with Surrey in the month of June to prepare himself for the upcoming tour of England. The batsman historically has struggled in English conditions with a Test average of 13.40 in five matches in the country.
The neck injury meant the stint had to be cancelled, while also ruling Kohli out of the Test against Afghanistan where India will be led by Ajinkya Rahane.
India are slated to play two T20Is in Ireland before they will depart for England for a full-fledged tour. There, Kohli’s men will play three T20Is and as many ODIs before finishing the tour with a five-match Test series.
Virat Kohli has stepped up his return from injury and posted a picture of himself in the gym on Sunday.
The Indian Cricket captain, who announced last week he had to pull out of his scheduled county cricket stint with Surrey next month due to a neck injury he suffered with in the IPL, is expected to be fit towards the backend of June.
The early signs at least look good as the 29-year-old enjoyed a workout, focusing on cardio.
Kohli will miss India’s one-off Test against Afghanistan on June 14 but could feature in two T20s against Ireland on the 27th and 29th of that month.
India’s T20, one-day international and Test clashes with England begin in early July and finish in September.
Can’t weights yet but can run instead! 🏃🏻 Find a way even on a Sunday! 🤓 pic.twitter.com/hDQoCjIF4N
— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) May 27, 2018