Mumbai City FC hotshot Sunil Chhetri has grabbed the limelight in this season of the Indian Super League after becoming the first-ever Indian player in the tournament's history to score a hat-trick.
However, the Indian national team skipper doesn't seem very happy about the Indian football calendar and hopes that the issues are sorted out in the coming years.
The national team players missed the initial matches of the ISL this year for their respective franchisees as they were plying their trade in the 2018 World Preliminary Joint Qualification games. And this for Chhetri, like many other football fans and aficionados, comes as a surprise.
The 31-year-old, who is the joint topscorer in the ISL this season along with Stiven Mendoza, believes that the schedule this year, which saw the cash-rich football tournament being played on the same period when the national team were playing, could have been done away with.
"The hectic schedule is fine, but when there's an international match going on, and still the league takes place at that time," Chhetri said in an interview with NDTV.
"That is something which is unheard of. So that was something which I personally didn't feel great about because when we were playing away against Oman and Turkmenistan, the ISL matches were happening over here [in India]. That shouldn't have happened, but that's not in my control," the Indian football talisman explained.
"It's fine for players to acclimatize to tight schedule, but the league going on and the national team playing. That doesn't happen."
The star forward hopes that the organisers take a cue from this incident this year, and the calendar of the ISL, the national team, as well as the I-League, is sorted out well ahead, so that this does not take place again.
"I just hope that in the coming years, we can have a better calendar where there is a proper differentiation between the national team and the ISL or the I-League and there remains a proper calendar where the national team players do not miss out on playing for the league," he mentioned.
The four-time AIFF Player of the Year also remained apologetic for the national team's performance in the World Cup pre-qualifiers so far, and he promised that the entire team are willing to give their best in the upcoming game. Chhetri also asked the fans to have faith on them.
"After the national team matches, when you open your social media, you're hammered. As far as we and our team is concerned, we will try to give our best against Guam [on 12 November].
"We still have the Asian qualification on stake so we want to give everything that we have. Just be patient, I know it's difficult as a fan. Just trust us, we will give our best," Chhetri said.