Virat Kohli bats for football after Sunil Chhetri makes heartfelt request to Indian fans

S.League at National Stadium
Representational picture Reuters

Hours after Sunil Chhetri made a heartfelt plea to football fans in the country, urging them to back the Indian team with their attendance at football stadiums, Virat Kohli took to social media in support of the India football captain's message.

Chhetri, one of the best football players to have played for the country, posted a video message, a day after he led India to a 5-0 win over Chinese Taipei with a hat-trick in the ongoing Intercontinental Cup 2018, a quadrennial tournament played in Andheri Sports Complex, Mumbai.

Chhetri: 'Come to the stadium...scream at us, shout at us, abuse us'

In the post that has evoked an emotional response from quite a few in the sporting fraternity, Chhetri urges fans to support Indian football at its "very important time and juncture".

The 33-year-old, India's all-time leading scorer, tells the fans not to stop with criticising the team on the internet but requests them to do it on their face from the stadiums.

Notably, Chhetri & co. were treated to an almost empty crowd at the Mumbai Football Arena on Friday. The official attendance figure was just 2,569 as most of the stands wore a deserted look.

"All the fans, who came out in Mumbai to support us...thank you. It means the world to us," Chhetri said.

He added: "But, I'm making this video, not for you guys, I'm going to speak, appeal and request all of you, who did not come."

"To everyone, who is not a football fan...please come and watch us. Two reasons...number one: it is the best game in the world and number two, we play for our country. We will make sure that once you come to watch us, you will not go the same person back home."

"To all of you, who support big European clubs and support 'your' European club with so much passion and sometimes you feel that 'The level is not same and why to waste your time?' Agreed. The level is not the same, not even close but with our desire and determination, we will make sure and try our best to make your time worth.

"To all of you, who have lost hope and do not have any hope in Indian football, I request you to come and watch us in the stadiums.

"It is not fun to criticise or abuse on the internet. Come to the stadium, do it on our face, scream at us, shout at us, abuse us and who knows, one day we might change you guys. You might start cheering for us.

"To all of you, who are fans but couldn't come, didn't come, play, work, school...please! Come and watch us in the stadiums. You guys have no idea how important you guys are and how important your support is.

"So, today I'm requesting all of you 4th, 7th and hopefully the 10th June, we are playing in Mumbai and please come and support us, encourage us, abuse us, criticise us, talk about the game, go back home, have discussions about the game. But, please get involved.

"This is a very important time and juncture in Indian football and football in India needs you guys."

Kohli bats for Chhetri's Blue Tigers

Following suit, Kohli posted a video, urging fans to support his "good friend" Chhetri and his team.

"In support of what my good friend and Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri posted sometime back, I want to request everyone to go and see the Indian football team play. Anyone, who loves any kind of sport, go and cheer for the team in the stadiums because they are a talented team and they are working hard," Kohli said.

India, placed 97 on Fifa rankings, are seeing the ongoing quadrennial tournament as the beginning of preparations for next year's AFC Asian Cup, for which they had qualified for the second time in eight years.

Stephen Constantine's men have been enjoying a good run in the recent past, having gone unbeaten between June 2016 and March 2018.

The tournament favourites will face Kenya on Monday, June 4 before facing New Zealand in their last round-robin match on Thursday, June 7. The final of the tournament will be held in Mumbai on Sunday, June 10.

Sunil Chhetri/ Twitter
Virat Kohli/ Twitter