Oceano da Cruz found Sunil Chhetri Mature and can now play in Portugal top-tier

Oceano da Cruz found Sunil Chhetri Mature and can now play in Portugal top-tier
Highlights

Oceano, 56 an assistant to Carlos Queiroz with the Iran national team, was actually responsible for scouting Irans group opponents and monitoring their progress But this Portuguese coach was tempted to look beyond, mainly group A where the hosts the United Arab Emirates UAE and India were attracting a huge crowd He made more than 400 appearances for the club and coached the senior team too

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Chhetri was 27 when he landed in Portugal
  • Oceano saw a much more mature player, still with great ability and quality in Chhetri
  • Chhetri is now at the peak of his prowess
  • Panaji: Oceano da Cruz watched India’s matches at the Asian Cup 2019 with more than just passing interest.

Oceano, 56 an assistant to Carlos Queiroz with the Iran national team, was actually responsible for scouting Iran’s group opponents and monitoring their progress. But this Portuguese coach was tempted to look beyond, mainly group A where the hosts the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and India were attracting a huge crowd. He made more than 400 appearances for the club and coached the senior team too.

Oceano kept an eagle eye on India’s performance and the man who coached India captain Sunil Chhetri during his time with Sporting Clube de Portugal, or Sporting Lisbon as they are commonly known, was left greatly impressed with the India striker.

Oceano told in an exclusive interview, “I saw a much more mature player, still with great ability and quality. His leadership skills were there for all to see.”

Chhetri is now at the peak of his prowess but the 34-year-old is still wrecked by his failed foreign stints. His time with New York Kansas City in the United States and Sporting Lisbon was disappointing, although Oceano coached him,
offer his sympathies.

Oceano told, “He was on par with the players. He trained every day and competed for a starting position like all others. One issue he had was that he didn’t play often enough the way he deserved, in the B (reserves) team. The B team policy was to give playing time to younger players,”

Chhetri was 27 when he landed in Portugal, and with time running out, decided to return home after it became clear that he wouldn’t get a regular first-team spot. His decision to cut short his European dream in 2013 came as no surprise to several who followed his career, including Oceano.

Oceano who was in charge of the Sporting reserves said, “I always felt, and still believe, that Sunil has the ability and character to compete in the top-tier of the Portuguese league, or elsewhere. As with all players, they need the right opportunities.”

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