Last night as the Socceroos defeated India 4-0 at the Asia Cup was the first chance Perth Glory fans had of seeing the player that the club had sent Director of Football Dave Mitchell to run his eye over, 26 Year old Sunil Chhetri.
To be fair to the Indian striker it was not really the best of games to try and impress in, as India were forced back in their own half as Australia controlled the midfield and launched wave after wave of attacks. To compound his problem, they constantly launched long balls up the park for Chhetri to try and control.
It would be harsh to judge him after just one appearance, but playing against Sasa Ognenovski, who in 2008-09 was playing in the Hyundai A league, and has now gone on to be Asian Player of the year, he struggled. Ognenovski’s physical presence and height were too much for Chhetri and he did not appear to have the pace or close control to turn the big defender.
After trials in the UK with Coventry City and Celtic, it was reported that the striker had signed a three year deal with Queen Park Rangers but was denied a work permit. He ended up in the USA and is the only player in India’s Asian Cup squad currently plying their trade overseas, having played for MLS club Kansas City Wizards.
Does he look like a good addition for the A League? Based on what was on show last night, no. From a marketing perspective there is no doubt he could be a huge success again especially if owner Tony Sage is looking take his business ventures into India. But is Perth Glory a tool for his everyday business interests or is it a football club with a goal, to win the Hyundai A League? If it is indeed the latter Chhetri would not appear to be the answer.
Goalkeeper Subrata Pal, 24, may be a better option for clubs in Australia, as although raw, with some decent coaching, his athleticisim and reflexes could be a real bonus to one team.