The Golden Era of Indian Football

Archaeological findings showing advent of the game back in 2nd and 3rd centuries in Han Dynasty to the present times where it has the most number of audience and followers, this game of FOOTBALL has a stupendous journey. The journey of India with football has been equally fascinating with a lot of peaks and valleys. Indian National Football team is supervised by All India Football Federation (AIFF) which was set up in 1937 and it is affiliated to the Federation Internationale de Football (FIFA). Asian Football Federation (AFC) was also set up in 1937 to work as the overseer of the sport in Asia with AIFF being it’s one of the founding members then. AIFF also enjoys membership of South Asian Football Federation. Indian National Football Team played it’s first international match on 3rd Sep, 1938 against Australia under the captaincy of Gostha Behram Pal, who was one of the best defenders India ever produced. He was later awarded Padma Shri in the year 1962. While in 1930s the sport was progressing towards a marvellous play of the country, R. Lumsden emerged as the first player to score hat trick for India against Australia. Indian National Team at 1948 Olympics. Image Source: Post Independence, India played it’s first international match on 31st July, 1948 with mostly barefoot players in London and lost it to France (2-1). Further, our side went on to participate in Olympics for the first time in 1948 with Talimeren Ao as the captain playing as defensive midfielder. Under the coaching of Syed Abdul Rahim, India witnessed it’s golden age in 1950s & 60s. Syed Abdul Rahim: the golden coach. Image source: Wikipedia In 1950, India managed to qualify for FIFA World Cup on account of withdrawal of all their opponents but ended up in withdrawal. AIFF listed many reasons such as travel costs, lack of practice and prioritization of Olympics for the withdrawal. Though AIFF has denied it, many historians believe that it was the imposition of the rule by FIFA of not allowing players to play barefoot. Under the captaincy of Salilen Manna, India bagged gold medal in 1951 Asian Games. It was India’s major international honour. He also captained the side in 1952 Olympics and 1954 Asian Games. In 1952, India was placed at the best Elo rating (Rank 30th) of all time. Manna was later awarded Padma Shri in 1971. AIFF declared him as the player of millennium in 2000. India finished fourth in the 1956 Olympics under Mewalal , the top contributor at 1951 Asian Games with 4 goals. D’ Souza who was the first Asian to hit a hattrick at Olympics made India reach the semi-finals. India had it’s biggest win in 1956 too, against Australia (7-1). The 1958 Asian Games in Tokyo also ended up with India at 4th position losing Bronze to Indonesia (4-1). Goswami who represented India at 1958 Asian Games and 1960 Olympics captained the side during 1962- 1964. In 1964, India came up with it’s best performance at AFC Asian Cup finishing as runners up and losing to the host - Israel. Though India fetched Bronze at Asian Games in 1970, the team’s performance went on declining and 1974 and 1978 Asian Games saw unimpressive results. In 1982, the side managed to qualify for Quarter Finals at the AFC Asian Cup. Despite Indian dominance decreasing in the game in those years, the team managed to win gold at two continuous edition of South Asian Games in 1985 and 1987. Stamp in the honour of Dr. Talimeren Ao, the first captain of Indian National Football team post independence. Pic source: #indian #footfall #FIFA #AFC

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