LG Cup win against Vietnam was very special, recalls Mahesh Gawali

NEW DELHI: Mahesh Gawali, the legendary centre-back from the early years of the 21st century, was only 22 when he travelled with the National Team to play the 2002 LG Cup in Vietnam. 

Twenty years later, the fans still recall the momentous occasion when a young Indian team shocked hosts Vietnam 3-1 in the final to win the trophy, India’s first major continental conquest since the Pesta Sukan meet in 1971.

Now the assistant coach of the National Team, Gawali, 42, felt truly nostalgic on the eve of leaving for Vietnam to play Hung Thinh Friendly Football Tournament from September 24-27, where India will take on Singapore and Vietnam. He has fond memories of the LG Cup, especially the final, when India came back from a two-goal deficit to prevail over the hosts in a stunning manner.  

“We played a great match against Vietnam in the final. We won the match and the tournament which was surely a great occasion in the history of Indian Football”, Gawali recalled before leaving for Vietnam from Kolkata  

“Beating Vietnam in their backyard surely gave a different feeling altogether. It was our first international title triumph after 1971, apart from regional tournaments like  the SAF Games and the SAFF Cup. Now that I am going to Vietnam as the assistant coach, I once again want to return home victorious. I am confident the boys will put up a great show in the next two matches”, Gawali said. 

A veteran of many a battle during his playing days, Gawali said: “Vietnam are a good team and they are strong side both mentally and physically. As it is, playing against the hosts is always a challenge. But we are fully confident of beating them”.

In his professional career spanning over 17 years, the former India defender had won almost every major trophy in the domestic circuit and spent a dozen glorious years with the National Team. After hanging up his boots in 2015, Gawali took up coaching. Having been selected the assistant coach of the Blue Tigers last year Gawali feels there is a huge difference between being a player and a coach. 

“Being an assistant coach certainly gives a nice feeling. At the same time, I do realise that I am  burdened with enormous responsibilities. There is lot more difference between becoming a player and then a coach. Overall, it is surely a good experience for me”, Mahesh said. 

The last time India and Vietnam met each other was in 2010 in Pune where India won the international friendly 3-1 with Sunil Chhetri scoring a hat-trick. 

“We want to win both the matches in Vietnam and play good football. Both the countries have progressed in their playing styles but India have many talented players. A few months back, our boys dished out a good performance (AFC Asian Cup qualifiers in June 2022) and I am sure they will continue the momentum in Vietnam,” said Gawali.

Recently, Gawali watched the boys play matches for their respective clubs in the Durand Cup and believes there is no reason to worry about their fitness. However, India will have to remain cautious throughout the tour.

“I believe with most of the players having played the Durand Cup this month, it will help the team to do better in terms of fitness and play 90 minutes at the same pace. The players are in good shape overall”, Mahesh remarked. 

In the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers in June, the Blue Tigers had played three matches and finished with a hundred percent win record.

For Fixtures, News, Stats, and more on the WIFA Women’s league – Click

Also Read: Mumbai Knights continue unbeaten run; Aspire end campaign on high

Follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for all the latest happenings in the world of Indian football

Young Guns Football Acadmey to conduct trials for their upcoming MFA 3rd Division Campaign

MFA 3rd Division club Young Guns Football Academy will be conducting open trials on October 9th for their upcoming season in Mumbai Football Young Guns Football Academy was founded in…


OSCAR SSE to conduct trials for Youth I League and YPL team in the U13 category in Mumbai

Mumbai-based OSCAR SSE will conduct trials for their Youth I League and YPL team on 16th and 17th July 2022 at Wings Sports Centre ground. Oscar SSE is a 2-star…


ROQS to host trials for MFA Super Division

ROQS is revamping their squad for the upcoming season of the MFA Super Division. The team is organising trials for the men’s football team on Monday, 11th of July, 2022….


MSP Academy is holding trials for the upcoming MFA Youth League

MFA Super Division club Mumbai Soccer Prodigies will be conducting trials for their MFA Youth League campaign on 22nd May 2022 in Bandra, Mumbai. Founded in 2006, the Mumbai Soccer…


Football School of India to conduct Youth Trials

Mumbai-based Football School of India is going to conduct youth trials for its boys and girls squads. The trials will be conducted for players in the age group of under-13…


Bengaluru FC Elite Youth Football Trials

Bengaluru Football Club is a professional club that competes in the Indian Super League (ISL) and are past champions of the I-League and ISL. The club has launched its Soccer…


D’Souza Football Academy to conduct Youth Trials

Mumbai-based D’Souza Football Academy is going to conduct football scholarship trials for its youth squads. The trials will be conducted for players in the age group of under-7 to under-15….


Oscar SSE to conduct trials for Youth I-League in U13, U15&U18 category in Mumbai

OSCAR SSE, an AIFF Accredited Academy invites all  U13, U15 & U18  players from ALL SOCIO-ECONOMIC  backgrounds for football trials to join our Elite teams to train round the year…


Air India to conduct senior team trials for MFA Elite League on Monday

Mumbai-based Air India FC is set to conduct trials for their Senior Team to play the MFA Elite (Corporate) Division. One of the top-tier clubs from Mumbai – Air India…


Air India to hold youth team trials on Monday

Mumbai-based Air India FC is set to conduct trials for their Youth Team for the MFA Super (Corporate) Division. One of the top-tier clubs from Mumbai – Air India will…