Saturday, October 6, 2007

India creates history, lifts Nehru Cup

New Delhi: A moment Indian football was waiting for- just to give a boost to the dying sport in the country- came on Wednesday, when Indian Soccer team playing like a much more accomplished and fluent team than ever before, beat Syria 1-0 in the finals of the ONGC Nehru cup on Wednesday at Ambedkar stadium, New Delhi. The victory helped Indian team to create history by clinching the ONGC Nehru Cup-2007 for the first time. Midfielder N P Pradeep scored the winning goal for India in the 44th minute. India, looked a better team right from the start making some good moves, but Indian players missed lot of simple chances, otherwise, the score line could have been much different. India got its first opportunity in the 9th minute when Steven Dias got an opportunity when he had an open goal in front of him, but his hit went over the goal post. Syrian defence again came under pressure in the 18th minute, when a header by Sunil Chettri on a free kick went just wide.
N P Pradeep after scoring the goal
The Indian team kept the pressure on and Bhaichung put the ball in the net in the 28th minute, much to the delight of the crowd, but referee raised the flag to signal off-side.

Finally, India got their moment of the tournament in 44th minute, when Pradeep scored from a brilliant pass from Bhutia. Syria received another jolt in the dying moments of the first half after the first goal, when Wael Ayan was shown the red card for hitting Surkumar. The game was disrupted as players from both sides indulged in a quarrel.
Coach Houghton congratulates
Chhettri after the win
Syrian team too, made some dangerous moves in the first half, but adroit Indian defence and superb goalkeeping by Subarata Paul denied Syria any chance of equalizing. In the second half India played more cautiously as Syria made aggresive moves quite often, but the ten men Syrian team failed to score any goal.

Coach Bob Houghton praised the team for playing good football throughout the tournament. He said, that the team created a lot of chances, which is a good thing to do against a better team like Syria. “This will definitely affect the Indian football in a positive way as the national leagues will also get a boost from this win.” Indian coach also said, that the win will help the team to approach the world qualifier match against Lebanon more confidently. Indian captain Baichung Bhutia termed the win as one of the best moment for Indian football.

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