|India Vs Afghanistan Nehru Stadium|
Chill is in the air, high time the cold came up in Delhi(pun unintended) What better way to celebrate it then to enjoy it on a cool evening of soccer in the final of the South Asian Football Federation 2011 championship match with India taking on minnows Afghanistan. The build up had a lot of expectations what with India vs Syria in the Nehru Cup ringing to mind and I thought this match should also be a close affair because it had been decided by a solitary goal in the league phase. Sunil Chhetri had scored in every match for India but the traffic never let up. Distance to get to the stadium was close to twenty kilometers and the time to make it was under an hour. Took some inspired driving from Sahil in his Santro with the single objective of taking the shortest distance possible, shouting at someone who was in front or someone who had got his bike too close for comfort, Sandeep had already booked the tickets and was waiting in line with Rujuta at gate number 14 along with the printouts.Overshot the deadline and reached the stadium with quarter of an hour already up but the police had other plans.With or without tickets-INSIDE!!! Reached the stadium and it was packed with supporters from both the sides. Afghanis had turned up with gusto from Bhogal and Kotla. The stadium though was a far cry compared to the money that was splashed for the CWG. Even my ’86 model Isuzu Gemini is in better condition in the sense that at least the dirt is wiped away every day, cant say the same for any stand within.
First half was a lively affair with both teams unwilling to commit in terms of attack with the ball generally played in the mid field. Sunil and Je Je were doing the best for India going forward. The match turned on its head in the sixty fourth minute with a run from Je Je Lal Pekhlua who was brought down in the box and the ref had no hesitation in pointing towards the spot. The Afghan manager later blamed the referee for the loss after he showed a Red card to Hameedullah, the Afghan keeper, for dissent. The resultant penalty was expertly slotted twice(after a retake) by Sunil. India after that were in the driving seat what with the Afghans outnumbered and India quick to pounce from the flanks on the counter. India added to the goal tally with goals coming from Clifford Miranda, Je Je and Sushil Singh. India romped home with a 4-0 scoreline and completed the tournament without any scare.
What better way to celebrate an Indian victory than to have delectable and authentic Afghani cuisine at Mazaar, a nice cosy eatery in Lajpat Nagar topped with a nice brew of Green tea. Ahh a perfect evening.