Monday, February 17, 2020

The Indian National Football Team

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Football is one of the favorite games played in India. The Indian National football team represents India in all the International matches. The Indian team qualified for the World Cup in the year 1950, but, they have never won the world cup. In 1951, the team reached the final of the Asian game’s championship and won it. Initially, before Independence, the Indian team used to play International Championship under the British flag. But after Independence,  the first-ever Indian National team of Independent India was formed in the year 1948. Here, let us know about the past and the present Indian National Football team.

History of Indian National Football Team

The first International tour of the Indian team was in the year 1924. The team was led by the Legendary Player Gostha Paul. The Indian football team in 1930 consisted of all Indian Players, and they traveled to countries like Australia, Japan, Indonesia, and various other foreign countries.  

The first international match played by the Indian team is dated back to 1933 at Ceylon. Though this date is still under debate. Most probably it was India’s Second International tour where the Indian team was victorious by 1-0. After the success of all these International tours, the All India Football Federation club was established in the year 1937.

In July 1938, the Indian team led by then K. Bhattacharya made a long tour to Australia, where they played five times against the Australian National team. The Indian team was managed by Pankaj Gupta and Karuna Bhattacharya. Talking about the football team, the player K. Anand was given a name, Mickey Mouse by the Australian Media for his Lightening speed at the right end. 

On 3rd September, the Indian team played its first friendly match against Australia. The Australian team won by 5-3. This was also the qualifying match of the Indian team for the FIFA world cup. The second match was at Brisbane and the Indians got back into the game by leading the match to a draw by 4-4. In the third Match India registered its first win by 4-1. 

But, in the other two matches, Australia defeated India, and hence India lost the entire tournament. On the 24th of September in the same tournament, the Indian R. Lumsden registered the first Indian hat trick in the world by registering three kicks (including a penalty kick).

In the year 1948, the Chinese team visited India and were defeated by the Indian National team at Kolkata by 1-0. The 1948 Olympics was the first International big tournament that India got to play. The Indian team led by Talmeeran Ao played barefooted and was defeated by the French team by 2-1. The decision of the Indian team wearing shoes had to be taken, and the team agreed to wear shoes only in wet conditions.

Sarangapani Raman became the first Indian player to score the first Indian goal in Olympic history. Despite the Indian team being thrown out of the tournament, the world took notice of the bravery of these Indian players playing barefoot. Later, the team was invited to Buckingham Palace by the then King George. At that time he had lifted the trouser of Sailen Manna and said that he thought the legs of the players were made of Iron. The Indian team captain had made a sensational statement in this tournament that “Over here you play bootball and in India, we play football.”

The Decade of 1950-1960

In 1950, the Indian team reached the final of the FIFA world cup. It was because in the qualifying rounds most of the teams playing against India withdrew from the match and removed their name from the championship. But, after reaching the finals, the Indian team also withdrew from the Championship. The AIFF (All India Football Federation) declared the reason behind was lack of sufficient funds. Many fans believed that it was because the Indian team was not allowed to play barefoot, but the then captain of the team Sailen Manna stood with the statement issued by AIFF.

In 1951, the team was coached by Syed Abdul Rahim, who led the team to victory in their first Asian Games championship played by the team. Here, they defeated Iran by 1-0. Sahu Mewalal scored the winning goal for the Indian team. In the year 1952, the Indian team again went to the Olympics, but the team was defeated again by Yugoslavia by a huge difference of 10-1. After the team’s return, the AIFF made it mandatory that the Indian team should be wearing shoes.

In the year 1956, the team achieved its highest title of standing fourth in the Summer Olympics. The team lost the Bronze medal to Bulgaria 3-0. In 1958, the team again finished fourth in Asian Games, Tokyo. The team was defeated by Indonesia by 4-1. The year 1960 started with the Indian team playing the qualifying games for the AFC Asia Cup championship. But, the team didn’t clear past the qualifying round.

India also qualified for the 1960 Summer Olympics by defeating Afghanistan in the first leg by 5-2. They entered the second round and defeated Indonesia in both legs by 4-2 and 2-0. But, India could not proceed further because they were defeated by Hungary and Peru, and the match with France was a draw. Again in 1962, the team won the gold medal in the Asian Games Championship by defeating South Korea by 2-1. 

The Years 1971-2000 (three decades)

The ’70s saw a sharp decline in the performance of the Indian National Football team. The team did not perform well even in the Asian Games Championship which was considered as their forte. In the 1970 Asian Games, the team finished third by defeating Japan by 1-0 in the bronze medal match and in 1974, the team finished last in their group.

In 1978, the team finished second in their group, but was defeated three times in the further qualifying rounds and hence did not reach the quarter-finals. In 1982, the team managed to reach the quarter-finals in the Asian game’s championship, but they were defeated by Saudi Arabia by 1-0 and the team was out of the tournament.

In 1984, India managed to qualify for the AFC Asia Cup championship, but they finished last in the group of their five countries. In Spite of constant decline in the Indian team performance, the team won the South Asian Games tournament in 1985 and 1987 and ended the 20th Century by winning the SAFF championship in the year 1999. The country had also won this title twice before in 1993 and 1997.

The Years 2000 to Till Now

The Indian team saw a bright start of the 21st century by qualifying for the first rounds of the 2002 FIFA world football championship. The team had a bright start by defeating UAE by 1-0, the match with Yemen was a draw and the team defeated Brunei twice including a 5-0 victory in Bengaluru. But, the team finished one point short for the qualifying rounds. 

In the 2003 SAFF championship, India was defeated by Bangladesh, in the Semifinals by 2-1. Later in 2003, India managed to reach the finals of Afro-Asian games under the guidance of coach Stephen Constantine by defeating Zimbabwe, in the Semi-finals by 5-3. But, the team lost to Uzbekistan U21 in the finals by 1-0. 

In the year 2006 Bob Houghton, the former Malma and China football coach was brought in as the head coach. From then onwards, the team observed major changes. The team won the Nehru Cup in  2007 and their first AFC challenge cup in the year 2008 under Houghton. They defeated Myanmar in Semifinal and Tajikistan, in the finals with the help of Sunil Chhetri’s hat trick and Subrata Pal’s goalkeeping.  This qualified the team for the AFC Asian Cup in the year 2011. The team also won the Nehru Cup in the year 2009.

In the AFC Asian Cup 2011, India was placed in a very strong group of South Korea, Australia, and Bahrain. The team was defeated in all three matches. But, Goalkeeping of Subrata Pal won him a huge appreciation from the crowd. After this, the coach decided to make changes in the team and bring young players in the game.

With the young Indian team, the Team did really well in the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup qualifying rounds. But, in the meantime, the AIFF decided to end Houghton’s contract as a coach and bring a new face of Savio Medeira on board. But, the team performed really badly under his coaching and was out of the AFC challenge cup. The coach Medeira was replaced by Wim Koverman and the first assignment of his was the Nehru cup. The Indian team defeated Cameron and won the Nehru cup. But, in 2015 the team finished at their lowest in FIFA World Cup qualifiers at the rank of 173.

Stephen Constantine was re-hired as the head coach of the team. His main assignment was to prepare the team for the 2018 FIFA World cup. The team qualified through the first round but received a crushing defeat in the second round. On October 11, 2017, the Indian team qualified for the AFC Asian Cup championship by defeating Macau by 4-1. Maldives defeated India in the 2018 SAFF championship by 2-1.

The Indian team got back in their form when they played friendly matches with China, Jordan, and Oman. In the first round of the 2019 AFC Asian Championship, the team won the match against Thailand by 4-1. But, again lost the other matches in further rounds and finished at the bottom of the group. The head coach Steven Constantine resigned then. The team’s new head coach is the Croatian player Igor Stimac and his main assignment will be the 2022 FIFA world cup.

Current Indian National Football Team

The current Indian National Football team consists of the following top footballers in India.

Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh, Kamaljeet Singh, Dheeraj Singh, Amrinder Singh, Vishal Kaith 

Defenders: Sandesh Jhingan, Anas Edathodka, Pritam Kottal, Subhashish Bose, Narayan Das, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Narender Gahlot, Salam Ranjan, Nishu Kumar, Rahul Bheke, Anwar Ali, Sarthak Golui

Midfielders: Aniruddh Thapa, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Sahal Abdul Samad, Halicharan  Narzary, Rowlin Borges, Jackychand Singh, Nikhil Poojari, Pronay Halder, Brandon Fernandes, Vinit Rai, Mandar Rao Desai, Adil Khan, German Preet Singh, Michael Susairaj, Amarjit Singh Kiyam, Raynier Fernandes

Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Manvir Singh, Udanta Singh, Ashique Kuruniyan, Balwant Singh, Sumeet Passi, Farukh Choudhary

So, these are the players of the current Indian national football team. 

The Kit for the Indian National Football Team

Like the other sports teams of India, the Indian National football team also plays in blue colors. Blue is the color of the Ashoka Chakra on the Indian National flag. The other colors green, white, and orange were already taken by other teams.

In 2002, Adidas became the first kit manufacturers for the football team as the AIFF signed a contract with them. The contract lasted till 2005. At that time, the away colors were completely white, and the home colors for the team were sky blue shirt with black pants and sky blue socks.

After four years, Nike got the contract, and they played with different shades of blue and white to make this kit. The first kit of Nike for India was in darker blue and the color of the away kit was changed and now it was orange colored. In 2013, the Indian kit was a light blue shirt with a little hint of white and white pants. In the year 2017 Nike introduced an all-sky blue kit for the Indian football team.

In 2018, the Indian Manufacturers Six 5 Six got the contract. They unveiled their first kit before the 2019 AFC Asia Cup championship. The kit home colors were all blue with the tiger emblem on the sleeve and away colors were all white with tiger emblem. The tiger emblem meant paying respect to the Indian football fans, who call their team Blue tigers, and also as respect to Bengal where football started (the Bengal Tiger).

So, here is everything you want to know about the Indian National football team. If you know of anything else, please let us know in the comment section.

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