India and Football do not go together. But last nite in Delhi, in a fiercely contested match India beat Syria a team which is ranked 40 places above India in the FIFA rankings. The goal came through a strike from the mid-fielder NP Pradeep after he was nicely set up by the ever youthful captain Bhaichung Bhutia off a pass from Sunil Chhetri.
The tournament was revived after a gap of 10 years and the Indian team was fit for the big test after their recent tour of Portugal playing some of the club teams in the lower leagues. The tournament was last held in Kochi in 1997.
Some more facts about the tournament from the AIFF Website:
Prize money at stake $100,000 was the highest ever, $40,000 for the winner and $20,000 for the runner up. The winner of each game gets $2,500. It may be recalled that when the Nehru Cup started in 1982, the AIFF had managed to rope in its first ever sponsor, Boroline for a sum of just Rs. 1 lakh. Those were the days when gate money was the main source of revenue and the novelty of foreign teams, like Uruguay, China, South Korea, Italy and Yugoslavia playing in Kolkata led to massive crowd interest and lucrative gate-money enabled the organisers make a substantial profit of Rs. 3.5 lakhs. For the current Nehru Cup tickets are reasonably priced at
Rs. 10 and 20.
Also it will be the first Nehru Cup not only in the capital but in North India . Previously the Nehru Cup was held thrice each in Kolkata and Kochi , twice in Thiruvanathapuram and once each in Calicut (1987) Siliguri (1988), Margao (1989) and Chennai (1993). Since the Asian Games in Delhi in 1982 it is the biggest football event in the capital.