Sunil Chhetri's dual strike help India clinch Inter-continental Cup
India's super skipper Sunil Chhetri scores twice as hosts beat Kenya 2-0 to clinch Inter-continental Cup
It was a Super Sunday for Indian football fans as talismanic striker and captain Sunil Chhetri's brace led India to an emphatic 2-0 win over Kenya in the final of the Intercontinental Cup at the Mumbai Football Arena in Andheri yesterday. With his dual strike, Chhetri took his international goal tally to 64 and equalled Argentina's Lionel Messi, making him the joint-second active international goal-scorer, behind Cristiano Ronaldo (81).
Kenya entered the final on the back of a resounding 4-0 win over Chinese Taipei in their last league match. However, the visitors were a pale image of what they showed their Asian counterparts in their previous match.
India head coach Stephen Constantine fielded his full strength squad and they did not disappoint the near 9000-strong (8990 was the official figure) fans who thronged the Andheri arena. Kenya did begin well in the opening minutes, but thereafter it was the Blue Tigers who had their name written all over the first 45 minutes.
After immense pressure on the Kenyan defence, defender Bernardo Oginga gave away a cheap free-kick for a high boot on Chhetri after Pritam Kotal's throw-in from the right, near the opposition goal mouth. The Indians came up with a delightful decoy — Anirudh Thapa took the free-kick two yards from the box, and Chhetri, who was parading around the goalpost, went back off the line and slotted Thapa's assist for his first goal in the eighth minute.
Sunil Chhetri could have doubled the lead two minutes later. The wily striker misread the situation and passed the ball towards the left corner thinking partner Jeje Lalpekhlua would be there, but his pass landed at the foot of a Kenyan defender instead.
However, in the 29th minute, Chhetri made amends. Anas Edathodika lofted a long ball and Chhetri, in a show of cutting edge skill, controlled the ball between Jockins Atudo and Michael Kibwage with a brilliant first touch, and slotted home off a lovely left-footer to take his tally to eight goals in four matches.
Tifo tiger too good
Members of the Indian football team were in for a pleasant surprise when dedicated fan group, Blue Pilgrims unveiled a special Tifo 3D Banner of a Blue Tiger as players made their way out of the tunnel for the Intercontinental Cup final against Kenya in Andheri yesterday.
Tifo, an Italian term used to describe a choreographed show fan support, found a place for the first time in the history of Indian football. The massive Blue Tiger ran from the bottom of the stands to the roof.
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