Indian international striker Sunil Chhetri is set to play for his MLS club Kansas City Wizards on Sunday against Manchester United in a friendly. It is a big occasion for the Major League Soccer club in the heartland of America, who will be facing one of the biggest club sides in the world.
And it is an even bigger honour that our own Sunil Chhetri will be facing Man U. And the task ahead of Sunil will be tough. Surely Manchester United will be missing a number of players who featured at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, but still Alex Ferguson will be able to field a competitive side. Sunil could be facing internationals like John O'Shea and Wes Brown or talented youngsters like Chris Smalling and Johnny Evans. But like most of his team mates Sunil will surely look forward to face legends like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes or Man U regulars like Nani, Darren Fletcher and Dimitar Berbatov.
But for Sunil it isn't just about facing a club like Manchester United. KC Wizards president Robb Heineman had said last weekend that Sunil will play against Man U as the club will test players ahead of upcoming MLS fixtures. And if Sunil can convince his coach about his qualities in this game, then he could get some chances in the league in the near future. He is said to have been training well and is close to the first eighteen squad.
But in some parts of the Indian media it has been wrongly reported that Sunil would be the first Indian footballer to face Manchester United in a friendly. Actually Sunil's team mate and role model Baichung Bhutia had faced Manchester United in a friendly match for his then club Bury FC in August 2001. And Baichung just didn't play, the Indian captain was a live wire for his club, scoring an offside goal and missing further chances in a half for Bury. And the story is that after the game Man U coach Alex Ferguson inquired about who the foreign Bury striker is. It was our own Baichung Bhutia, but sadly his English club career never took off.
All the best Sunil!