Yahoo! News reported yesterday with the headline India down Tajikistan 4-1 to claim AFC Challenge Cup:
A hat-trick from striker Sunil Chhetri powered hosts India to a 4-1 win over holders Tajikistan in the AFC Challenge Cup final on Wednesday, securing them qualification for the 2011 Asian Cup finals in Qatar.
Terrific win given that the Tajiks were the holders of the cup and that we qualify for the Asian Cup finals, which is huge because like every country in Asia plays football or something. Indian football is looking up and hopefully we can get back to the glory days, during which DH tells us (emphasis mine) that:
India last played in the Asian Cup in 1984 under Yugoslav coach Ciric Milovan with players of calibre like Shabbir Ali, Subrata Bhattacharya, Krishanu Dey and Prasanta Banerjee in the team.
Before that they were runners-up in 1964 in Israel where the hosts defeated India in the final.
How you go from being runners up in the cup to being bottom feeders is anyone’s guess. But, we should look to build on our current triumph and start kicking more football butts.
Now, if we can get a decent coach for our hockey team and get that team back on track, we can get it back to the big Olympic gold-medal machine for India. Now that would be something to celebrate.
Happy Independence Day.