The Indian football team skipper scored two goals in the tournament held in the UAE.
Indian striker Sunil Chhetri clinched the title of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup Fans’ Favorite Player following a mammoth 561,856 votes across 19 days. With football still suspended in India and various parts of Asia, the AFC decided to organize a poll on their official Instagram handle to determine the fan-favourite at AFC Asian Cup 2019.
Accordingly, 16 prominent names from 12 countries were nominated and pitched against each other, with a voting process ensuring their subsequent progression in the competition. They were Ali Mabkhout (UAE), Chanathip Songkrasin (Thailand), Son Heung-Min (South Korea), Akram Afif (Qatar), Wu Lei (China), Eldor Shomurodov (Uzbekistan), Alireza Beiranvand (Iran), Fahad Ali Muwallad (Saudi Arabia), Sardar Azmoun (Iran), Vitalij Lux (Kyrgyzstan), Almoez Ali (Qatar), Yuya Osako (Japan), Nguyen Cong Phuong (Vietnam), Kim Min-Jae (South Korean), Nguyen Quang Hai (Vietnam) and Sunil Chhetri (India).
As you might have noticed, there are some big names in there, but Tottenham Hotspur forward Son-Heung Min’s name that is certain to immediately catch one’s attention. Unfortunately, the immensely talented forward couldn’t garner enough votes befitting his quality and was knocked out in the first round itself with Akram Afif taking the spoils.
Qatar forward Almoez Ali is another big name that suffered an early exit. He was trumped by none other than eventual winner Chhetri. For the uninitiated, Ali played an instrumental role in Qatar lifting the Asian Cup 2019, as he finished atop the goalscoring charts with nine strikes and was awarded the Best Player of the Tournament award for his excellent performances.
Sunil Chhetri also managed to get the better of Ali Mabkhout in the semi-final stages of this polling contest, who holds a prominent status in the Asian football circuit. The 29-year-old scored four goals for the UAE in the Asian Cup 2019, but they were eliminated by eventual winners Qatar in the semi-finals of the competition.
At the end of it all, it came down to Chhetri and Uzbek striker Eldor Shomurodov, with the legendary Indian sharpshooter narrowly beating the latter with 51% of the votes in his favour. The Blue Tigers, who had participated in the competition for the first time since 2011, couldn’t make it past the group stages, but completed a memorable 1-4 victory over Thailand, with Chhetri grabbing a brace.
India is currently competing in the AFC Asian Cup 2023 qualifiers after being knocked out from the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers.