'Just four teams qualified. It shows our hard work. We will keep working hard'
The failure to qualify for the 2015 Asian Cup still rankles Sunil Chhetri, and India's football team skipper is determined to shine in the 2019 premier continental tournament after booking a ticket for the competition on Wednesday.
India qualified for the 2019 Asian Cup after crushing Macau 4-1 in their qualifier at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Wednesday.
India had failed to qualify for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.
"I was there when we missed out in 2015 and that still hurts me," Chhetri said after the match.
"This is the tournament we play for. We get to rub our shoulders against best in Asia, which we don't get many times," he added.
Rowllin Borges (28th minute) put India ahead before Sunil Chhetri (60th) and Jeje Lalpekhlua (90+2) found the net after the break.
Macau defender Man Fai Ho scored an own goal in the 70th minute.
Nicholas Mario de Almeida Torrão scored the lone goal for the visitors in the 37th..
Chhetri lauded his teammates for their performance.
"Amazing feeling. We have worked hard for this. Quite a group. Good last 3 points, great feeling. Happy with the way we bounced back," the striker said.
"Just four teams qualified. It shows our hard work. We will keep working hard.
"We can't lose our cool. The goal we conceded was against the run of play."
Reflecting on the goal he scored, Chhetri said: "Balwant had great pace and set it up for me to finish."
Earlier, India had beaten Myanmar 1-0, KyrgyzRepublic 1-0 and Macau 2-0. They are yet to concede a goal in the qualifiers.