New Delhi, Oct 21 (ANI): All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Tuesday felicitated skipper Bhaichung Bhutia for having played 100 matches for the country.
Bhutia scored a goal to cap his memorable 100th national team appearance, leading the hosts to victory over Kyrgyzstan in a five-nation tournament in August.
The 33-year-old striker scored off a solo effort and then earned a penalty after being brought down inside the box as the hosts won 2-1 in a league game in the Nehru Cup tournament.
Bhutia was rewarded with 500,000 rupees, a plaque and a gold coin by newly elected AIFF president Praful Patel.
Expressing his thanks Bhutia said he wished that more players would replicate his achievement.
"I never expected that I would be able to play 100 matches. I think India has played a very less number of international matches since the time I have played for the country. That is the reason no other player was able to complete 100 matches. But I hope now we'll play enough international matches. And I wish more players would come forward and I want to see more players completing 100 matches," said Bhutia.
Bhutia helped the side qualify for the 2011 Asian Cup finals in Qatar, but has had less joy at club level in recent times.
His club Mohun Bagan slapped him with a six-month ban in June, saying he had neglected training duties to appear in a reality television dance show.
Team's goalkeeper Subrata Pal was honoured with the best footballer of the year award and was given cash reward of 500,000 rupees and a plaque.
"I never thought that I would be awarded with this honour. I just wished to play good football and I want to play good game in future as well. And it feels nice when our effort is being appreciated and I would try to play better next time as well," said Pal.
Paul played a stellar role in India's victory in Nehru cup.
Meanwhile, Praful Patel said that 2011 Asian Cup should be the sole target now and it would help in reviving football in the country.
"Now our sole target should be 20011 Asian Cup. If we'll perform well there then definitely a lot will be improve in the present situation of Indian football, more youngsters would be attracted towards the sport and new players would also be motivated to come forward," he added. (ANI)