New Delhi: There was an air of positivity and a feel-good factor at the Jawahralal Nehru stadium, after the Indian football team`s epic Nehru Cup triumph on Sunday.
After India has just beaten a team that had once made the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup, Italia 1990 to be precise, when they humbled then world champions, the might Argentines.
The team had once boasted players of the calibre of Roger Milla. And this is the country that gave the world Samuel Eto. India had reasons to celebrate, and they were not found wanting on that front at the JLN.
The players set off for the victory run moments after Thierry Makkon’s attempt in the tiebreaker hit the upright, and the roar inside the stadium reached a crescendo when Man of the Tournament, skipper Sunil Chhetri held aloft the trophy.
The Indian skipper played his part to perfection in the summit showdown, scoring once in the regulation time and then converting his shot in the tiebreaker.
Indian football’s marathon man, Syed Rahim Nabi was named Man of the Match.
All India Football Federation (AIFF) president promptly announced a bonus of USD one lakh to the team, besides the champions prize purse of USD one lakh.
‘Chak De’ was played at the background, and it seemed appropriate.
Chhetri had said on the eve of the final that India needed to play like a ‘team possessed’ to get the better of the Indomitable Lions, and they did exactly that.
After a year of uncertainty that saw India suffer embarrassing defeats at the Asian Cup in Doha, Koevermans arrival seem to have steadied the ship to an extent.
The New India, it seems, has arrived.
It`s time to embrace. The turnout of about 40,000 has already done that. It’s time for the entire country to follow in their footsteps.
Congratulations poured in from all quarters, including the AIFF and the Delhi Soccer Association officials.