“Nothing is impossible,” quipped India National Team defender Denzil Franco when asked about India’s heroic win in the Nehru Cup final against Cameroon at the Jawaharlal Stadium on Sunday. Indeed, Wim Koevermans’ New India beat all odds to retain the crown for the third time. Ranked lowest among all five participating Nations at the start of the Tournament, the Men in Blue sailed past Cameroon 5-4 (2-2) on penalties after both the teams were locked 2-2 despite 120 minutes. “I cannot describe in words how special this win is for me. I have won the SAFF Championship in Bangladesh but this one remains most special. It is solely because of the way we fought and overcame all hurdles to clinch the title for the third time,”
Denzil, who came on as a substitute for Nirmal Chhetri, said the morning after. “We adapted to a completely new system so well and the result is in front of everybody.” “I dedicate this win to my parents, especially my Dad. He stood beside me all the time and has sacrificed a lot. A lot of people greeted me in front of my home in Goa. It’s a very emotional moment for me,” he added. Denzil pointed out that the Indians succeeded in stopping Cameroon’s wing play. “Our X-factor was the way we stopped their attacks form the flanks. They are very strong on the flanks and our strategy was to curtail their movement as much as possible. We succeeded in our plan which never allowed them to play their natural game.” He, however, was candid enough to admit that he was extra cautious when he came on in the dying minutes of the second half. “I came in place of Nirmal who was injured. Cameroon were all over us and I knew, one bad tackle could cost us the coveted trophy. But at the end, I’m happy with my performance.” “I was also nervous while taking the penalty but the seniors in the side stood beside me and it was for them that I could score from the spot. The likes of (Rahim) Nabi, Mehtab (Hossain), Sunil (Chhetri), Gouramangi (Singh) and others supported me all the time.
By Debayan Mukherjee,
AIFF Media Team