New Delhi: India won their third second Nehru Cup on Monday defeating a a much higher ranked Syria in a pulsating final that went to the penalty shootouts.
In the regulation time the two teams were unable to score and the match went into extra time. India took the lead in 114th minute when Renedy Singh curled in a free kick into the Syria net much to the delight of the capacity crowd at the Amdebkar Stadium in New Delhi.
But Syria equalised in stoppage time when Ali Dyeb's header beat Indian goalkeeper Subrata Paul to send final to penalties.
India players kept their cool with Paul emerging the hero for India under the bars as the country celebrated its second Nerhu Cup triumph
CNN-IBN Correspondent Sanjeeb Mukherjea caught up with India's victorious captain Bhaichung Bhutia after the match.
CNN-IBN: Congratulations Bhaichung! How are you feeling after wining the Nehru Cup final?
Bhaichung Bhutia: Feeling very proud of my team. I think we really worked hard, we had a great one and half pre-season in Barcelona. We came back and had a pretty decent tournament. Though we started a little shakily, but I think we did very well to come back strong and when it was required, we got all our wins. I think wining the final is the happiest thing to happen. All the players underwent coaching and Bob taught well to all of them. It is been fantastic throughout.
CNN-IBN: Do you feel perhaps we could have capitlised on few more chances and finished the game off in 90 minutes?
Bhaichung Bhutia: I think so. We started very well, in the first half we dominated the game completely, we should have got one or two goals during that time. But I think Syria did come back well in the second half. But on the whole we went very well and again in extra time we scored, could not keep the lead but I think the character was good... because after going one goal up and considering the dying minute and then coming back strong in the penalty shoot out as well with that confidence coming back is I think superb. I must say Subrata was outstanding in the penalty shootout.
CNN-IBN: A lot of experts will talk about the game in different ways but who would better to talk about it rather than yourselves, the captain who has played there for 120 minutes and also the tie-breaker. Bhaichung what was the game plan going into the second half?
Bhaichung Bhutia: In the second half we wanted to play with the same plan we did in the first half, our main theme was to keep our shape and we wanted Syria not to pass around the ball, we wanted them to play aerial balls, which they did. I think game plan worked and I am very happy for our victory.
CNN-IBN: During the closing stages did you remind of 2007as physically game as we saw in the last time, this time you were also involved in the finals, perhaps did u get disappointed?
Bhaichung Bhutia: I was very disappointed, when that goal went in. But being a captain I motivated all my players and wanted them to play in pressure during penalty shootout.
CNN-IBN: Tell us about Bob Houghton vocal tonics? What did he tell you to inspire? There was different shots of fire when India went into the extra time?
Bhaichung Bhutia:I think when we first came in for this match, Bob already had a plan of how to defend ourselves and attack as well. We really worked hard for the last match. It is important to have such great coach to guide you and motivate you. It is also important for the players to maintain discipline in the game.
CNN-IBN: You came into this tournament with lot of things happening on your mind, particularly with the club football future in mind. But you pushed away everything. How important this win for you?
Bhaichung Bhutia: It was very important win not only for me but for entire India. As we played well it is a matter of pride for the entire nation.