The Indian football team have had its fair share of success and failure since its existence. India have been striving hard to seek qualification in the FIFA World Cup, a feat yet to achieved by the Blues. Although the team did qualify for the World Cup in 1950, lack of finances forced them to withdraw from the highest footballing competition. However, India has had its share of success in continental competitions, including the Nehru Cup, which the team won for the first time on August 29, 2007. Co-incidentally, the win was achieved on India's National Sports Day, which is celebrated to honour Dhyan Chand's birthday.
#OnThisDay 13 years ago, India were crowned Nehru Cup 2007 champions at the Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi 🏆— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) August 29, 2020
The #BlueTigers 🐯 defeated Syria 🇸🇾 1-0 in the final, with NP Pradeep scoring the winning goal 💪💥#IndianFootball ⚽ #BackTheBlue 💙 pic.twitter.com/MGN1Jg8uUA
India defeated Syria in 2007 final to seal their first-ever Nehru Cup triumph. The competition, that is organised by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) since 1982, was scheduled after a break of 10 years. Besides India, the Nehru Cup also saw participation from Cambodia, Bangladesh, Syria and Kyrgyzstan, with the Blues emerging victorious on home soil.
The Indian football team began their campaign with a thumping 6-0 victory over Cambodia, with current captain Sunil Chhetri netting a brace alongside Steven Dias. India's victory against Cambodia was followed by another win against Bangladesh but failed to continue their victory lap against Syria. With Syria already sealing a spot in the final of Nehru Cup, winning three games consecutively, India needed a win against Kyrgyzstan to advance into the final.
Indian football team's performance against Kyrgyzstan did surprise many, with the Blues netting thrice without conceding any in the game. The Nehru Cup final was played between India and Syria on August 29, 2007. Syria were considered the favourites in the game, citing their unbeaten run of form in the competition. The team possessed one of the most prized assets in Asia, Zyad Chaabo, who scored five goals in the competition.
However, the Indian football team went on to clinch their first-ever Nehru Cup final with NP Pradeep scoring the only goal of the night. The success in the Nehru Cup was rewarded with prize money of $40,000. Subsequently, India went on to win the trophy on two more occasions - in 2009 and 2012.