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Yan Dhanda reveals his favourite Indian players

Published at :May 2, 2023 at 8:16 PM
Modified at :May 2, 2023 at 8:17 PM
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M Sudharshan

This is the fourth part of the Yan Dhanda interview series.

Indian-origin football player Yan Dhanda spoke exclusively on Khel Now’s ‘Beyond the Scores’ podcast on various topics related to his football career. In the first few parts, Yan shared his conversation with AIFF General Secretary Shaji Prabhakaran, his desire to play for India, and his take on OCI citizenship. In this part of the Podcast, he shares which Indian player he likes the most.

On being asked about the favourite player from India, Yan Dhanda iterated, “Sunil Chhetri is my favourite player and he is an amazing player for the country. Apart from Chhetri, I like Sahal Abdul Samad who currently plays for Kerala Blasters FC. Sahal has good technical skills and I guess he has a bright future going forward.”  

Sunil Chhetri’s career and the rise of Sahal Abdul Samad

Sunil Chhetri is the third-highest international goalscorer among active players, behind only Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, and fifth overall. He is also the most-capped player and the all-time top goalscorer of the India national team. The 38-year-old is the flag bearer of Indian football, having donned the national colors for over two decades.
#Listen | Yan Dhanda’s Exclusive Interview to Khel Now

In October 2008, it was rumored that Chhetri had received interest from foreign clubs. These clubs were Leeds United from Football League One and Estoril Praia of the Liga de Honra, the second division of Portugal. The following year, Chhetri was denied a work permit (after getting selected to play for Queens Park Rangers at the League Championships) because India were not in the top 70 of the FIFA World Rankings.

In 2010, India’s highest goalscorer formally signed for Kansas City, becoming just the third Indian to play outside of South Asia and the first Indian to play in MLS (Major League Soccer). He played a one-off game against Premier League giants Manchester United, which was one of the most memorable matches during his stay at Kansas. Chhetri did not have a long stay and subsequently made his shift to an Indian club (in I-League).

The 38-year-old made a shift to Mumbai City FC in his opening stint of ISL and a season later, made a move to Bengaluru FC. India is still in search of Sunil Chhetri’s replacement in the Indian National team and it will be a giant hole to fill in the forward position.

26-year-old Sahal Abdul Samad is a talented Indian youngster who currently plays for Kerala Blasters FC in the ISL. The Keralite was part of Al-Etihad Football Academy in UAE for four years and made a shift to India in 2016. Sahal mainly plays as an attacking midfielder or central midfielder and is noted for his dribbling skills and creativity. He is regarded as one of the best midfielders in India by many football pundits and has much to prove playing for the National team.