Nehru Cup: India Retains Nehru Cup, Complete A Hat-Trick Of Titles

India have retained the Nehru Cup and thus won a hat-trick of titles under coach Bob Houghton with Subrata Paul and Renedy Singh being the key conspirators in their victory over Syria this evening at Ambedkar Stadium, New Delhi.
 India 6-5 Syria (penalty shootout)

After 120 minutes of open play ended in a 1-1 scoreline, the Indians held their nerves in the crucial penalty kicks to emerge worthy winners. For India, Climax Lawrence, Sunil Chhetri, Steven Dias, Anwar and Surkumar Singh were successful from the spot while Renedy was unfortunate as he managed to send the goalkeeper the wrong way but his attempt bounced back off the right post. Mehrajuddin Wadoo’s attempt was an easy save for the Syrian goalkeeper.

Subrata Paul’s heroics between the sticks and attempt to psyche the opposition players worked in India’s favour.

First Half 

India coach Bob Houghton named his best line-up with the likes of Bhaichung Bhutia, Sunil Chhetri, Anthony Pereira, Steven Dias, N.P.Pradeep and Surkumar Singh starting while Syria also brought in their stars.

It was a great start for the Indians as Bhutia Bhutia enforced a mistake from Hamzeh Aitoni and unleashed a left footer which saw Syrian goalkeeper Mousab Bilhousa go full stretch to save his side the early blushes.

The next attack again went India’s way as Surkumar Singh released Steven on the right whose first time cross was headed wide by Sunil Chhetri. Anthony Pereira did well to send in a cross but was cleared in time by Wael Ayan as an unmarked Bhaichung  Bhutia was lurking in the box.

Moutaz Kaldini controlled a long ball and his attempt to find the far post wasn’t very far.

The 22nd minute saw Syria have their best chance of the half when an Abdul Fatah cross from the left was headed over the bar by Mohamed Al Zeno. Neither team could create any clear cut chances as the Syrians were a little cautious in their approach whereas the Indians lacked the creativity.

Steven Dias’ attempt after receiving a pass from Bhaichung Bhutia was very uncharacteristic of him.  

 Second Half

The host started the second half in the same fashion with a dipping Steven Dias free-kick being punched away by Mousab.

Bhaichung Bhutia released Chhetri through on goal after the hour mark but the latter couldn’t reach to the end of it.

Meanwhile, India survived a scare at the other end with the Syrians looking far better as the game progressed with Abdul Fatah’s attempt coming off the post. Wael Ayan, Moutaz Kaldini and Abdul Fatah looked dangerous every time they got on the ball.

A gem of a delivery from Steven saw Chhetri fail to find the back of the net from five yards out.

The game went to extra-time with the first 15 minutes being completely dominated by the West Asians. Abdelrassak played a more attacking role with substitute Raja Rafe being the key to every Syria attack.

In the second period of the extra time, Bob Houghton played his first card of the game when he brought in Renedy Singh for Anthony Pereira.

Bhaichung Bhutia earned a free-kick outside the box on the left side of the box. Renedy bended the ball towards the near post which beat the outstretched hands of Mousab to send the assembled crowd into frenzy.

Just when it looked that India had their hands firmly gripped on the trophy, Ali Dyeb dashed their hopes with an injury time header which took the match into penalty-kicks.

Subrata Paul Saves A Penalty

The Indian troops were better marksmen in the penalty shootout duel.

Goalscorer India: Renedy Singh (144th min)

Goalscorer Syria: Ali Dyeb (120 + 2 min)

Penalties:

Climax Lawrence scores

Raja Rafe scores

Renedy Singh miss

Wael Ayan miss

Sunil Chhetri scores

Haj Mohammed miss

Steven Dias scores

Mousab scores

Mehrajuddin Wadoo miss

Abdul Fatah scores

Anwar scores

Abdelrassak scores

Surkumar Singh scores

Belal miss