India's showcase tournament resumes after decade

Host India will face Cambodia in the opening match of the five-nation Nehru Cup International Football Tournament that starts in Dehli on 17 August. The tournament, revived after a gap of 10 years, was initially a six-nation tournament but the last-minute pullout by Iran forced the All India Football Federation to stick to India, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Syria and Kyrgyzstan for the 13-day evenr at the refurbished Ambedkar Stadium. The final is scheduled for 29 August. The total prize money of the tournament is $100,000. The champion team takes away a prize of $40,000, the runners-up receive $20,000 while the third place team will be richer by $10,000. The winning team of every match will get $2,500.

The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation is sponsoring the event and produced a completely new model of the trophy as the original model, won in 1997 by Iraq, was not available. "ONGC is supporting soccer at the grass root level so that young footballers bud into professional players at an early age. The Nehru Cup tournament will help India take a big leap in international football," ONGC Director (Human Resources) A.K. Balyan told IANS.

Launched in 1982 by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi , the Jawaharlal Nehru Gold Cup ushered in the modern era of Indian football, bringing world stars like Enzo Francescoli (Uruguay), Laszlo Kiss (Hungary), Jorge Luis Burruchaga (Argentina), Euzebiusz Smolarek (Poland), Rinat Dasayev and Alexei Mikhailichenko (both Russian) to showcase their talent on Indian soil. Hosts India never made it to the final of the tournament but for 15 years the tournament remained the showpiece of Indian football. An annual event till 1989, the Nehru Cup was forced to become a biennial event due to paucity of funds until 1997 when it was last played in Kochi.

Year Winners Runnersup Score

1982 Uruguay China 2-0
1983 Hungary China 2-1
1984 Poland China 1-0
1985 Soviet Union Yugoslavia 2-1
1986 Soviet Union China 1-0
1987 Soviet Union Bulgaria 2-0
1988 Soviet Union Poland 2-0
1989 Hungary Soviet Union 2-1
1991 Romania Hungary 3-1
1993 North Korea Romania 2-0
1995 Iraq Russia 1-0
1997 Iraq Uzbekistan 3-1

Source: News Post India

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