How have Indian strikers fared in the last decade?

 The Indian football team has scored just two goals in more than 270 minutes of football in the ongoing SAFF Championship 2021. India are ranked 107th in the world and they have played against Bangladesh (189), Sri Lanka (205), and Nepal (167) so far in the competition; all of them well beyond the 150-mark. And yet, they have found it difficult to score. 

Moreover, both the goals have been scored by Sunil Chhetri who is 37 years old. What is more concerning is that the Blue Tigers have been toothless in the attacking third and have looked clueless against teams that prefer to sit back and absorb pressure. There was an evident lack of creativity in the first two matches against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, which improved marginally against Nepal. 

However, when they started carving out chances the finishing went down the drain. Chhetri had a bad day at the office against Nepal as he missed two golden opportunities but he made amends by scoring the winner.

Manvir Singh struggled to get into the match throughout the 90 minutes as Rohit Chand hardly allowed him to maneuver. In fact, he was taken off when India were looking for a goal and Udanta Singh was introduced. A look at the stat shows that he has scored only three times in 24 appearances and has a goal ratio of 0.12. 

Another attacking contender in Farukh Choudhary, who assisted Chhetri against Nepal, has even a poorer goal ratio of 0.07. He has scored only once and that too in a friendly against the Gorkhalis. Hence, it is no surprise that India are struggling to find the net. The forwards have been a big let down and if Chhetri leaves his scoring boots in the hotel against Maldives, India might have a hard time finding the net.

Was it a bit better during the second coming of Stephen Constantine? Let us find out. 

The British tactician led India in 43 matches and during that period India had scored 77 goals which translate into 1.79 goals per game. That looks brilliant compared, but one must note that back then, India enjoyed the services of a certain Jeje Lalpekhlua who scored the bulk of his 24 goals under the reign of Constantine. Once he got injured, India has struggled to replace his goals and the result is that the Blue Tigers are labouring to find the net.

A deeper dive will help us find that apart from Chhetri and Lalpekhlua, no current Indian striker has crossed the threshold of five international goals. The table below shows the data after the 2011 AFC Asian Cup and highlights the plight of Indian attackers. Interestingly, Sumit Passi has a better games-to-goal ratio than most of the other strikers.

It must also be noted that not many of these players play as a number nine consistently for their club, not even Chhetri.

Player Name Matches Goals Goals/Match Ratio
Sunil Chhetri 83 55 0.66
Jeje Lalpekhlua 58 24 0.41
Robin Singh 32 5 0.15
Sumeet Passi 9 4 0.44
Balwant Singh 11 3 0.27
Manvir Singh 24 3 0.12
Sushil Kumar Singh 13 2 0.15
Farukh Choudhary 14 1 0.07

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