It has been a dream start to 2016 for the Indian national football team. Not only did they make themselves and the Indian football fans proud by winning their record seventh SAFF Cup title, they also made sure to land national team coach Stephen Constantine in the record books.
Constantine guided his army to the SAFF Cup 2015 title on Sunday, 3 January, 2016, and also became the first international coach to guide India to the prestigious South Asian football title.
Celebration was at an all-time high in the Indian dressing room following the match, and the euphoria reached zenith when AIFF President Praful Patel announced on Twitter that the national team have earned themselves a massive $100,000.
"On behalf of AIFF I announce a bonus of 50000 dollars above the 50000 dollars prize money to the team," tweeted Praful Patel.
The match on Sunday evening went the distance, and the excitement and anticipation was at an all-time high at the Trivandrum International Stadium in Kerala. Zubayr Amiri got the first blood for Afghanistan in the 70th minute, but star Indian forward Jeje Lalpekhlua cancelled the goal just two minutes later.
It was locked 1-1 after 90 minutes of play, and right before the half time of extra time, Indian talisman Sunil Chhetri got the home team the lead. It was a nail-biting match till the end, and once the final whistle blew, it was an everlasting million-dollar moment in the stadium.
India won the test of stamina and tenacity, and also won the SAFF Cup 2015 final with a 2-1 score.
"I am not a one man band. This trophy is for all of us right from to lads to the fans," Stephen Constantine stated after the match. "It belongs to everybody.
We should all stand up for Indian Football".
Sunil Chhetri and Jeje Lalpekhlua finished with three goals each in the tournament, but nothing can be taken away from Stabaek FC goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who had a wonderful performance between the sticks for India throughout the tournament.
Robin Singh was another key man. The lanky forward's brace for India in the opening game was the curtain raiser for the national team to win the tournament. However, it was unfortunate that the Bengaluru FC man had to miss the remainder of the competition due to his hamstring knock.
"I want to dedicate this win to Robin Singh, as it was really unfortunate that we lost him," Sunil Chhetri said after the match.