Bhubaneswar: The Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar was packed to the rafters as India were crowned champions of the Hero Intercontinental Cup 2023.
The blue tigers overcame Lebanon, securing a 2-0 victory with goals from skipper Sunil Chhetri and Lallianzuala Chhangte .
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik handed the coveted trophy to the champions in front of a jubilant crowd. The historic night witnessed the presence of several esteemed dignitaries, adding to the significance of the momentous occasion including Sports & Youth Services Minister, Tusharkanti Behera, Secretary, 5T, Shri V Karthikeyan Pandian, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Sports, Vineel Krishna, President AIFF, Shri Kalyan Chaubey, Secretary General, AIFF, Shaji Prabhakaran, and Secretary, Football Association of Odisha, Ashirbad Behera.
On this grand occasion, CM announced Rs 1 Crore for the Champions Team India
The dignitaries in attendance felicitated every member of the Indian and Lebanese contingent with gold and silver medals respectively.
At the closing ceremony, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik congratulated the champions.
He said, “It is a matter of great pride for our State to host this prestigious Intercontinental Cup. Congratulations to India on their victory in the face of stiff competition. It is our intention to hold many more football events in Odisha and support the growth of the sport in Odisha and India.”
The excitement and anticipation for the final match was palpable in the days leading up to the conclusion of the four-nation football tournament and the final night did not disappoint. A sea of fans cheered on both teams, creating a true sporting festival. The spectators were as enthusiastic as they had been during the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup, and their enthusiasm increased when the Blue Tigers faced Lebanon for the final match.
President, AIFF, Kalyan Chaubey shared, “Over the last few days the anticipation and excitement of the fans who wanted to see National Team win at the Kalinga Stadium, has been at the peak and the final clash saw the stadium reverberate with chants and roars. We couldn’t have had a better venue and ending to the Hero Intercontinental Cup. I thank Odisha Government for extending all support and hospitality to the participating teams and for hosting a spectacular tournament.”
Also in attendance for the finals was a delegation from the Saudi Arabian Football Federation comprising Deputy Secretary General Ibrahim Alkabbaa, Senior Advisor to the Saudi Federation, Hicham El Amrani and DGS Assistant Secretary Norah Alshuwayman. Ahead of the final, the representatives from Saudi Arabia, convened with Sports and Youth Services Secretary, Vineel Krishna and All India Football Federation Secretary General, Dr. Shaji Prabhakaran to discuss the promotion and development of football in the region.
The immaculate success of the Hero Intercontinental Cup is indicative of the ever-growing football ecosystem in India and the state of Odisha’s unwavering commitment to hosting international tournaments towards the abetment of sports in India.