– Shashank Kotmire
A number of expletives found their way out of this piece of writing because they had to go. The sole reason for that was pure childlike enthusiasm and excitement I experienced during the whole 90 minutes. Sitting at one place usually becomes tedious after a while but you can’t move your eyes off the field when the game of football is going on. Things change in a matter of seconds.
After our captain, Sunil Chhettri put up a video asking Indians to come and support them, thousands of Indians turned up and showed that they were worth the salt. It was not one of those videos which surfaced online, went viral for a day and then would be forgotten in the next 2-3 days. The video asked people to come to the stadium and watch the beautiful game and support the team. The match truly showed them what home support feels like. The emphatic victory over Kenya yesterday was a statement. A statement, Indian Tigers made to each of the 8900+ spectators who came to watch. The stadium at full capacity, was overflowing with emotions, excitement and chants of Vande Mataram.
The rains were not a spoilsport and played to the tunes of pitch perfect football that was being displayed. The moment I entered the stadium, the rains announced themselves. They came in as if they were welcoming the players. Light soft droplets which would soon become thunder strikers and add dramatic visual and value to the game. It felt like the beginning of a 90 minute film, the only difference being the football match had no fiction to it. I witnessed a 3-0 win with the captain scoring a brace and Jeje Lalpekhlua getting his name on the score sheet with a brilliant stunner.
The match went into extra time of 5 minutes. A win was confirmed but we did want more. Every touch was cheered, every skill received an applause. Maybe Chhetri wasn’t happy with the scoreline and wanted to end his 100th match on his own terms. He rightly did so by scoring a beautiful lob over the keepers head. Thousands stood on their feet to see the goal clear the line and they erupted with joy as soon as it did. The chants of Chhetri and Vande Mataram continued. The blue tigers skipper came to our stands and celebrated. He looked calm and collected but there was a certain style to it.
The most beautiful game was played in an inch perfect way, with great defending, a strong midfield and a dynamic strikeforce, who combined on many occasions to trouble the Kenyan defence.
All I can say after watching the match live from the stands and being lucky enough to see all the goals from a distance of 30 meters is that, we heard you captain! We heard you and we came, we saw and you conquered.