India wins 2015 SAFF Cup: Who said what
Indian football made a fantastic start to the new year as they were crowned as champions of the SAFF Suzuki Cup for a record seventh time. The Indians overcame all odds as they beat pre-match favourites Afghanistan 2-1 in a thrilling encounter much to the delight of the thousands of fans gathered at the Trivandrum International Stadium in Kerala along with millions all over the country.
Captain Sunil Chhetri produced a stellar performance as he ended up with an assist and the winning goal in extra time as India beat the Afghans. The goal was Chhetri’s 50th in the national colours. Jeje Lalpekhlua scored the equaliser for India after Zubayr Amiri had put the Afghans in the lead.
Richly deserved congratulatory messages poured in from all over the nation for the victorious Blues side.
We take a look at some of the reactions to India’s extraordinary victory on Monday.
A visibly jubilant head coach of the Indian national team, Stephen Constantine described the victory as the best achievement in his coaching career and dedicated the win to Indian football.
“We had to be on our toes at all times and everybody worked their socks off and functioned as a unit. At the end of the day we won and that is what matters.”
“I am not a one man band. This Trophy is for all of us right from to lads to the fans. It belongs to everybody.”
“We should all stand up for Indian Football,” Constantine stated at the official post-match press conference.
Star of the final, skipper Sunil Chhetri was all smiles sitting alongside the manager at the press conference.
“It gives me immense joy to be crowned Champions. It is not easy to win a Tournament with a young side and we did that. I told the boys that we should not lose today, no matter what as if we did, Afghanistan would be Champions for their entire lives,” said the skipper.
Chhetri lavished praise on the fans for creating an electric atmosphere. He also spared a thought for the unfortunate Robin Singh who could not feature in the final as he was nursing an injury he suffered earlier in the tournament against Sri Lanka.
“The fans were wonderful today. They cheered for us even when we were a goal down and that gave us motivation to win the match.”
“I want to dedicate this win to Robin Singh, as it was really unfortunate that we lost him.”
Captain of the Indian Test cricket team, Virat Kohli was quick to congratulate the team on its victory. He also had praise for his counterpart’s extra-time winner that won India the trophy.
Praful Patel, the president of AIFF, Indian football’s governing body added his congratulations to the side and acknowledged the roles of Chhetri and Constantine in the cup triumph.
Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, vice president of FIFA and one of the foremost candidates to be elected as the president of the world football governing body, commended India’s victory and claimed it ‘shows the promise Asian football holds’.
Congrats to India Blue Tigers on SAFF Cup win over impressive Afghan team. Again shows Asia’s football promise. https://t.co/vpOwHDvr4T— Ali Al Hussein (@AliBinAlHussein) January 4, 2016
Former Union Minister and Member of Parliament(MP) Shashi Tharoor also joined the chorus in praising the team on its stupendous victory.
Indian football team celebrates after dethroning Afghanistan in final of SAFF Cup in Thiruvananthapuram pic.twitter.com/6ccVpEnG7G— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) January 3, 2016