East Bengal win ASEAN Cup in Jakarta

East Bengal beat BEC Tero Sasana 3-1 in the LG ASEAN Cup football final in Jakarta.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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East Bengal today became the first Indian football club to win a major international tournament when they beat BEC Tero Sasana in the LG ASEAN Cup final in Jakarta. The Kolkata club, who are India's National Football League Champions, beat Thailand's BEC Tero Sasana 3-1. At halftime, East Bengal led 1-0 against BEC Tero Sasana, which is rated the fifth best club in Asia. It turned into revenge win for East Bengal who were beaten by BEC Tero Sasana in the tournament's opening league encounter by a solitary goal. The win earned East Bengal $50,000. Bhutia: Player of the tournament Baichung Bhutia, who scored nine goals in the tournament, was adjudged the player of the tournament. Leading by a 28th minute Mike Okoro goal at the break, East Bengal stretched their lead to 2-0 with golden boot award winner Bhutia taking his tournament tally to nine in the 48th minute. Alvito D'Cunha sealed the issue in the 69th minute after the Thais tried to come back through a goal by Panai Kongpaphan in the 58th minute. Bhutia, who was declared the man of the match, continued with his rich form and ended the tournament on a high with his solo second goal which put the Thais firmly on the back foot even as they were trying hard to nullify Okoro's strike. On a quick counter attack, Bhutia snatched the ball from Thai defender Thanongsak Pajakkta after a one-to-one battle. He went inside the box, pulled the goalkeeper out of position, and regaining his step after a slip, found the net with a firm right foot shot. Lucky venue The Geloran Senayan stadium once again turned out to be a lucky venue for Indian soccer, where India had won the Jakarta Asian Games gold medal in 1962. The two teams began with a couple of raids on either end with Therdsak Chaiman, most valuable player of the tournament, and Okoro caught in the offside trap in the early minutes of the match. Even as Sasana looked like taking control with greater possession with more of action in East Bengal's half, the Kolkatans came back with some intelligent bout of passing which unsettled the Thais. Soon East Bengal went into the lead through a snap goal which totally caught the Thais off guard in the 28th minute. Lurking near the rival danger area, Okoro latched on to a guided through pass from the centre circle by Brazilian Douglas De Silva. Wriggling for space between the rival defenders, Okoro, starting only his second match of the tournament, found the target with a powerful right footer that crashed into the net. Returning from an injury, Okoro repaid coach Subash Bhowmick's faith in him. Brief Score: East Bengal 3 (Mike Okoro, 28th minute; Baichung Bhutia 48th minute; Alvito D'Cunha 69th minute) beat BEC Tero Sasana 1 (Panai Kongpaphan 58th minute). (with PTI inputs)