Veteran Indian striker Sunil Chhetri reiterated his belief for a unified league packed with more teams as the way forward for India amidst growing uncertainty over the proposed merger between the I-League and Indian Super League, reported PTI.

Chhetri also suggested that the national team needed to play more games in order to remain competitive, “I want to play all 13 FIFA dates in a year. We need that. That’s where the unified league is going to come in handy. We should prioritise that, and ensure the national team gets a chance to play more games”

“Hope we play bigger opponents and away from home as we have done really poorly as a nation away from home. Win or lose, that will at least give us a chance to improve as a footballing nation,” Chhetri said.

Chhetri continued to bat for a longer league with more teams, something he has done on a number of occasions this season. The 32-year-old had earlier floated an idea of having a unified league featuring 20 teams from the length and breadth of the country, “Who would not like to see a merger? One league with more teams, more months is what we all wish for. There are few technicalities and I am sure they are looking into it. Eventually we will see one league. A unified league,” added Chhetri.

Reflecting back on the year, Chhetri observed that it was a season that was filled with glory, rating it as his “finest”, “You can say that 2016 was my finest. It went well for the national team, started by winning the SAFF Cup, we reached the finals of AFC Cup, we reached the semis of ISL. I think it was a fruitful season,” Chhetri said.

Chhetri also gave his view on All Indian Football Federation chief Praful Patel’s vision of the Blue Tigers qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The former Indian skipper, however, chose to focus on being in the top pool in Asia, “I think we have to come in the first 10 in Asia first. To come to 10 is going to be so, so difficult. Thailand was with us but now they are playing in the last qualifying round though they are getting hammered by some teams. We have to qualify for the Asia Cup and stay there, try to get to the 15th, 16th position in Asia and then think about the final journey,” Chhetri added.

Chhetri will be seen in action in the upcoming I-League representing defending champions Bengaluru FC, who also get to play the AFC Champions League later in the year.