India excited by 'historic' Nehru Cup win over Syria

A packed house cheered India to a rare international football title on Wednesday night with the home team taming Syria by a lone first-half goal in the invitational ONGC Nehru Cup tournament. As Vijay Lokapally of The Hindu recorded: "Baichung Bhutia did not score, but paved the way for a priceless strike by N. P. Pradeep in the 44th minute. It should, however, be recorded that India owed the triumph immensely to an impeccable performance under the bar by Subrata Paul. His anticipation in cutting off Syria’s aerial forays was the most striking feature of the contest."

The Boys in Blue, who turned around a five-decade history of defeats, will share India's prize pot of $40,000. Sponsors have contributed a similar amount. According to Jaydeep Basu in The Telegraph, India’s footballers are not paid match fees. All India Football Federation president Priya Ranjan Das Munshi announced incentives before every match in the tournament, barring the opener and paid the players in cash immediately after the game.

India's national parliament today congratulated the team for its historic. "The Indian Football Team has made the nation proud when they lifted the prestigious Nehru Cup after defeating formidable Syrians," Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said in Lok Sabha amid thumping of desks by members. "The spirited performance by the Indian team will certainly usher in a new era in the Indian football. I am sure the House will join me in congratulating Captain Baichung Bhutia and his teammates for their historic win and wish them great success in their future matches," Chatterjee said.