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 August 10, 2002 | 1945 IST

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India win LG Cup football

Substitute Abhishek Yadav scored the match-winner in the dying minutes as India rallied brilliantly to beat hosts Vietnam 3-2 in an exciting final and lift the LG Cup 2002 football title, at the Thong Nhat stadium, in Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday.

The triumph in the six-team tournament earned the Indian team $16,000 (about Rs 750,000).

Trailing by two goals till a few minutes before half-time, India staged a superb rally through captain and star striker Baichung Bhutia, who scored on either side of the break, to knot the match at 2-2.

With the match heading into extra-time, Abhishek scored to gave India its first major title in football after the bronze medal win in the 1970 Asian Games.

Bhutia won the man-of-the-match award. Rajat Ghosh Dastidar was declared the 'Most Valuable Goalkeeper' of the tournament.

Egged on by a packed partisan crowd, Vietnam began in whirlwind fashion and their speedy forwards were soon all over the Indian defence. Le Hyunch Duc put the home team ahead and soon India were looking down the barrel after conceding the second goal. Vietnam's most promising player Phung Thanh made it 2-0 as nothing went right for the Indians

India's newly-appointed coach Stephen Constantine was a proud man, having got off to a jumpstart within just three weeks since taking over the team.

"The most pleasing aspect about the Indian team's play was the fact that they could play attacking football for 90 minutes," the Englishman said.

"The team has definitely come a long way in this competition but we still have a long way to go," he added, looking back at victories over better ranked opponents in the tournament.

India beat defending champions Indonesia, ranked 13th in Asia, in the semi-finals before today's win over Vietnam, ranked 19th in the continent.

"I hope this victory shows everybody in India that we have the potential to be amongst the best in Asia. The boys worked very hard; this was a fantastic victory. I am confident India, with its quality players and a quality coach, could go a long way in Asian and World football," said Constantine as the Indians walked up to collect the medals and the glittering trophy.

The coach highlighted the importance of international exposure, saying: "More such tournaments at regular intervals will surely help build the confidence of the Indian team."

At the same time Constantine was realistic. "We have a long way to go - let's keep our feet firmly on the ground and not start expecting too much from this victory. We have to work a lot more to fare well in tougher competitions like the Asian Games."

The Complete Coverage

Earlier reports:
India hoping to extend winning run
India storm into LG Cup football final
India looking to take Petrokimia in stride
India romp into semis of LG Cup
India will go all out for a win
India's prospects brighten after Vietnam lose
India under-23 held by Singapore in LG Cup

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