Bhubaneswar: While striving for success at the upcoming Intercontinental Cup 2023, Captain Sunil Chettri is all praise for Bhubaneshwar as he sets foot for the third time at the Hockey Capital of India. For the first time in three years, India will host the Hero Intercontinental Cup, with the Blue Tigers battling for supremacy against the trio of Lebanon, Vanuatu & Mongolia.
At the eagerly anticipated tournament, starting from June 9th till June 18th, the Blue Tigers will be aided with the benefit of a home ground such as Kalinga Stadium, which has also hosted the ISL, and FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.
Feeling confident about their upcoming season and considering himself fortunate to have Kalinga Stadium as their home ground, Indian defender Sandeep Jhingan said, “I’ve had the good fortune to go across the country and enjoy many facilities and accommodations but here at Kalinga Sports Stadium everything is top quality. I’d want to point out that the facilities are excellent, and it’s one of the best international venues for us to showcase our abilities. The facilities, training, and our experience here has been absolutely refreshing. I have travelled to Europe, and I have competed at many international venues where football has been a religion, but I am completely amazed at how Bhubaneshwar has managed to outdo them with their top-notch facilities. We have been training here every day, and in this setting, I feel every sport will have a place to call home.
Sunil Chhetri, Captain of National Football Team recalled his previous visits and shared, “I’ve come here before. This is my third trip here, and the previous time I was here, I was competing against Odisha FC. Having the newly inaugurated football centers so close to the stadium is a fantastic development. I feel that everyone who is interested in playing football should visit these facilities regularly.”
Further elaborating on his experience at the Bhubaneshwar grounds, Chhetri added, “We have enjoyed the training sessions. It’s been ten days of training and the facilities are excellent, and the kindness extends from the training field to where we reside. Even the smallest details, such as the ice baths, have been meticulously handled. Our competition starts in four days, and we can’t wait for our hard work to be rewarded.”
Last week, Odisha Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik inaugurated three state of the art football centers in Bhubaneswar. Speaking on the upcoming FIFA centers at Bhubaneshwar Sandeep Jhingan opined, “I am from Chandigarh and back home we didn’t have a turf to practice on but with god’s grace and coach’s support I was able to push myself further. The benefit of having a home ground in a place like Bhubaneshwar will undoubtedly inspire many young dreams to be fulfilled, and I wish them all the best in their endeavors.”
The tenacious Indian Winger, Nandhakumar Sekhar, who has spent over five years at Odisha FC, also spoke on his connection and fondness for the venue. “I had a good journey with Odisha FC, and I am very happy to see that dream grow. Today with me being a part of the National Football team I have been able to visit my former home ground again and I was completely amazed at how the government has been able to support the dreams of aspiring footballers, through the football centers. I really love how people support football here, sports are now embedded into the fabric of the city.” he said.
Dedicating a messaged to the fans, Sunil Chhetri added, “I hope to see you at the stadium, those who are about to travel; you have always been our supporters. If you are in Odisha, we would like to invite you to the stadium. I can’t remember the last time the national team played in Odisha. This is a wonderful opportunity that we as players are very excited about; if you can make it, it will be fantastic