Often times people have always had a misconception about India’s National Football Team. Since the team has long appeared in a major world-renowned event, many have consistently come up with several theories regarding their absenteeism in a major competition. However, as some of their assertions may be true, others may not be completely valid. Our team has put together 5 facts about the India National Football Team to help you know the truth about the team.
Here are 5 facts about the India National Football team that you may never have known about.
1. The Ban for playing Football BareFooted:
In the year 1948, India participated in their first-ever major international tournament – the 1948 London Olympics. Their team consisted of predominantly barefooted Indian players. Notwithstanding, they gave in their best to compete with France in their first match. However, the lost the game with a 2-1 goal margin in favor of the Frenchmen.
Shortly after the match, during a press conference, the Indians were asked why they took on their opponents barefooted. Their captain, Talimeren Ao answered the question with high optimism saying;
“Well, you see, we play football in India, whereas you play BOOTBALL!”
After much deliberation, India came to the conclusion of wearing shoes whenever the field is wet. Otherwise, they opted-in for barefoot in dry and soft grounds. Consequently, some players chose to wear bandages on their feet to protect them rather than wearing shoes.
Indian recorded several other losses in the competition but won against Boldmere St. Michaels F.C with a 1-0 goal margin. After the competition, India retired to their home country having made quite a history.
Why India Withdrew from the 1950 World Cup:
Over time, people have often rumored that India failed to participate in the FIFA World Cup Competition because they chose to play barefooted. However, their assertion is not true regarding Indian’s major reason for withdrawal in the 1950 World Cup.
Truth is India qualified for the competition because their opponents all withdrew from the pre-tournament qualifiers. After further deliberation from the All India Football Federation (AIFF), the India national team also pulled out of the competition.
One of the major reason for their withdrawal is the high cost of funding the entire team to actively participate in the competition. The complained that the cost of traveling was high and the time available for practice was not sufficient. More importantly, the Indians valued the Olympics above the World Cup. Hence, they would rather spend such funds in preparation for the Olympics.
Since their withdrawal from the World cup in 1950, India has not been able to scale through the qualifying round. Hence, they’ve been unable to appear in the World Cup competitions since 1950.
2. India’s Greatest Achievements:
Despite their failure to qualify for the World Cup competitions, India has made tons of achievements in the world of football. India inked their name in the sands of time as they won their first international trophy – Asian Games – in the year 1951. The team was led by their captain Rahim to a 1-0 victory against Iran in the month of March, 1951. A few years later, India gained automatic entry into the 1964 AFC Asian Cup and ended up as the runner up in the tournament.
Facts About India Football Team in the 21st Century:
In the 21st century, India has recorded a lot of improvements in their football sector. One of the grand victory they recorded was their success in winning the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup. They were able to finish as the best team in the tournament. Thanks to the profound effort of their captain, Sunil Chhetri who scored a hat-trick in the final against Tajikistan.
Even in the 21st century, India still struggles to qualify for major tournaments in the football world. However, it is only a matter of time before the team reaches the level of success that would shock the world. Furthermore, the time and efforts that India has invested in their football sectors will elevate their football team someday.
3. India’s Best Players in History:
Below is a list of prominent Indian football players that have made a huge contribution to the growth of the team. Also, the list took into consideration, their individual appearance and performance for the team.
The greatest football player in the history of India football is Sunil Chhetri. He holds the record of the highest goal scorer in the national team of India football club. Furthermore, the veteran Indian player holds the record for the Most Cap (115) in the history of the team. He once captained the India national team and made a remarkable performance in the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup. Thus, he helped his team record success in the competition.
Another notable player in the history of India National Football team is Bhaichung Bhutia. History shows that he has capped for India’s national team for about 82 times. Hence, he holds the record of the second most capped player in the team’s history. Even though he has made numerous appearances for India, he has only scored a total of 27 international goals for the team.
4. India’s Greatest Coach in History:
Do you know that India has been coordinated by only twenty-nine head coaches since independence? Eleven of the coaches were foreigners while the rest were Indian. However, the greatest coach of the Indian football team is Syed Abdul Rahim. He was recognized as the most successful Indian head coach because of his achievements. Firstly, he led the team to claim gold medals in 1951 as well as the 1962 Asian Games. Secondly, Abdul Rahim also led the team into finishing fourth during the Summer Olympics in 1956.
Although Abdul Rahim has recorded the most success as a coach, two other foreign coaches also made tremendous contributions to the team. Bob Houghton and Stephen Constantine are the two most successful foreign coaches in the history of India’s national football team. They were both responsible for leading the team to successfully qualify for the AFC Asian Cup. Take a look at their picture below.
5. Third Oldest Football Competition:
It is no longer news that the FA Cup is the oldest known competition in the history of football. Notwithstanding, India’s competition – Durand Cup – is the third oldest football competition in football history. One of the unfathomable facts about the competition is that it was first held in the year 1888. However, the competition which was founded by Sir Mortimer Durand became the oldest football tournament in Asia.
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