Virat Kohli, Sania Mirza and Suresh Raina lend their support to Indian football team after captain Sunil Chhetri's plea

Sudhir Gupta 18:00 03/06/2018
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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.

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