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13th Anniversary of East Bengal’s Greatest Success - 2003 ASEAN Cup victory

It will be 13th Anniversary for East Bengal FC’s ASEAN Cup win in Jakarta. Now going down the lane a lot of memories will bring back in our mind. Moreover a lot of changes happened to Indian Football after the historic win of East Bengal Club.

It was the inaugural championship. Originally, this inaugural championship was supposed to be organised by Vietnam, but organisation was moved to Indonesia. East Bengal was clubbed with BEC Tero Sasana and Philippine Army in Group D.

East Bengal lost to the Thai club BEC Tero Sasana by 0-1, before thrashing Armed Forces F.C. Philippines 6-0 (Bhaichung scored all six goals, the first Indian to achieve a double hat-trick in international football). East Bengal next beat Indonesia’s top two clubs Persita Tangerang 2-1 in the quarterfinal and Petrokimia Putra (1-1) and 7-6 in sudden death penalties in the semi-final. In Final East Bengal defeated BEC Tero Sasana by 3-1.

Now defeating BEC Tero Sasana was a significant achievement for East Bengal Club because they were the finalist of 2002-03 AFC Champions League.

After this victory Baichung Bhutia went on loan for two months (August 15 – October 15) to Malaysian league champions Perek F.C. Besides paying Bhaichung, the Malaysian club also gave East Bengal compensation.

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Thailand league champions BEC Tero Sassana tried to procure the services of young defender Sur Kumar Singh and striker Mike Okoro. Mahesh Gawli, M. Suresh and goalkeeper Sandip Nandy but they all were recruited for next season by Mahindra United by record payment in Indian Football.

East Bengal’s 2003 ASEAN Cup triumph brought big money transfers in Indian football.

The Dream Squad that played the final were - Sandip Nandy, Sur Kumar Singh, M. Suresh, Deepak Mondal (S. Malsawmtulunga), Suley Musah (Captain), Sasthi Duley, Bijen Singh, Douglas D’Silva, Alvito D’Cunha, Bhaichung Bhutia and Mike Okoro.

It is still the biggest ever achievement at International Level by any club in Indian Football.

 

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