4. The common man who still believes in Indian football: They made a simple 20000 capacity stadium into an intimidating Fortress Ambedkar stadium. Such support can only get more corporate interested in sponsorships. Bob Houghton has recently acknowledged that even the top Asian teams will find it tough to beat India, in front of a packed Ambedkar stadium. You see Public ke aage jeet hai!
Fans Fans Fans!
3. ‘Teen tigada, opposition ka kaam bigada’: In the original David Steven Beckham Dias, the evergreen Bhaichung Bhutia and Sunil Chhetri, India have avenues from where goals will keep coming. At mid-twenties Sunil Chhetri’s and Steven Dias' best years are still ahead. Dias was excellent during the Nehru Cup whipping in quality crosses one after another, tirelessly, match after match.
Still The Best
It must surprise readers why Bhaichung isn’t our numero uno positive and why would he need to share with two others. Bhutia was undoubtedly the deserving player of the tournament - won a penalty, scored two crucial goals, was in centre of most attacks and finally rounded off the tournament by earning the free kick (which resulted in the Renedy curler). However Bhaichung's success is also due to inability of our next generation strikers to make their mark. The fact that even at 33yrs old, Bhaichung's position is hardly challenged is a cause for worry. Nevertheless, our trinity should serve India for the forthcoming Asia cup and we wish them all the best.
2. The Dinosaur in front of the goal, ladies and gentlemen, Subrata Paul: When some of our penalty takers started getting nervous, it was Subrata's antics which kept the spirits high. He singlehandedly ensured India were always ahead in the penalty shootout and Syria had to do the chasing. One can’t fault him for any of the goals, India let in during the tournament. He was absolutely brilliant, as has been his standard, in the past couple of years. At early twenties, Subrata is Asia class, destined for bigger and better things and must start looking at playing beyond the I-league.
1. Bob 'the builder' Houghton: Even if you combine the other nine positives, it’s impossible to imagine this silver period of Indian football without Bob Houghton. Words would fall short to describe the man, for whom, results have spoken bigger - three years, ‘hat trick’ of trophies, clear vision, clear plans, leader getting the best out of players and the system and yet not publicity hungry ... in most of the celebrations photographs, you will struggle to locate him!
Avijit Das Patnaik
What do YOU think? What are the reasons to be positive about the Indian national team?