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|Association||All India Football Federation (AIFF)|
|Sub-confederation||SAFF (South Asia)|
|Most caps||Sunil Chhetri (107)|
|Top scorer||Sunil Chhetri (67)|
|Current||103 6 (7 February 2019)|
|Highest||94 (February 1996)|
|Lowest||173 (March 2015)|
|Current||150 19 (3 March 2019)|
|Highest||30 (March 1952)|
|Lowest||186 (September 2015)|
Australia 5–3 India
(Sydney, Australia; 3 September 1938)
India 1–2 France
(London, England; 31 July 1948)
| Australia 1–7 India |
(Sydney, Australia; 12 December 1956)
India 6–0 Cambodia
(New Delhi, India; 17 August 2007)
| Yugoslavia 10–1 India |
(Helsinki, Finland; 15 July 1952)
|Appearances||4 (first in 1948)|
|Best result||4th place, 1956|
|Appearances||4 (first in 1964)|
|Best result||Runners-up, 1964|
The India national football team represents India in international football and is controlled by the All India Football Federation. Under the global jurisdiction of FIFA and governed in Asia by the AFC, the team is also part of the South Asian Football Federation. The team, which was once considered one of the best teams in Asia, had its golden era during the 1950s and early 1960s. During this period, under the coaching of Syed Abdul Rahim, India won gold during the 1951 and 1962 Asian Games, while finishing fourth during the 1956 Summer Olympics.
India has never participated in the FIFA World Cup, although the team did qualify by default for the 1950 World Cup after all other nations in their qualification group withdrew. However, India withdrew prior to the beginning of the tournament. The team has also appeared four times in the Asia's top football competition, the AFC Asian Cup. Their best result in the competition occurred in 1964 when the team finished as runners-up. India also participate in the SAFF Championship, the top regional football competition in South Asia. They have won the tournament seven times since it began in 1993.
Despite India not achieving the same results as their golden era, the team has seen a steady resurgence since the beginning of the 21st century. Besides the SAFF Championship triumphs, under the guidance of Bob Houghton, India won the restarted Nehru Cup in 2007 and 2009 while also managing to emerge victorious during the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup. The Challenge Cup victory allowed India to once again qualify for the Asian Cup for the first time in 27 years. The national team's all-time top goalscorer is Sunil Chhetri, with 67 goals. Chhetri is also India's most-capped player, with 105 international appearances.
Football teams consisting of entirely Indian players started to tour Australia, Japan, Indonesia, and Thailand during the late 1930s. After the success of several Indian football clubs abroad, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) was formed in 1937. The national team played their first match as an independent nation in 1948 in the first round of the 1948 Summer Olympics against France. Using mainly barefooted players, India were defeated 2–1 in London.
In 1950, India managed to qualify for the 1950 FIFA World Cup, which was scheduled to take place in Brazil. This was due to all their opponents during qualifying withdrawing from the pre-tournament qualifiers. However, India themselves withdrew from the World Cup before the tournament was to begin. The All India Football Federation gave various reasons for the team's withdrawal, including travel costs, lack of practice time, and valuing the Olympics more than the World Cup.
Despite the reason given out from the AIFF, many historians and pundits believe India withdrew from the World Cup due to FIFA imposing a rule banning players from playing barefoot. However, according to the then captain of India, Sailen Manna, the story of the team not being allowed to play due to wanting to play barefoot was not true and was just an excuse to cover up the real reasons the AIFF decided not to travel to Brazil. Since then, India has not come close to qualifying for another World Cup.
Despite not participating in the World Cup in 1950, the following years after, from 1951 to 1964, are usually considered to be the "golden era" of Indian football. India, coached by Hyderabad City Police head coach Syed Abdul Rahim, became one of the best teams in Asia. In March 1951, Rahim led India to their first ever triumph during the 1951 Asian Games. Hosted in India, the team defeated Iran 1–0 in the gold medal match to gain their first trophy. Sahu Mewalal scored the winning goal for India in that match. The next year India went back to the Olympics but were once again defeated in the first round, this time by Yugoslavia and by a score of 10–1. Upon returning to India, the AIFF made it mandatory for footballers to wear boots. After taking the defeat in Finland, India participated in various minor tournaments, such as the Colombo Cup, which they won three times from 1953 to 1955.
In 1954, India returned to the Asian Games as defending champions in Manila. Despite their achievement three years prior, India were unable to go past the group stage as the team finished second in Group C during the tournament, two points behind Indonesia. Two years later, during the 1956 Summer Olympics, India went on to achieve the team's greatest result in a competitive tournament. The team finished in fourth place during the Summer Olympics football tournament, losing the bronze-medal match to Bulgaria 3–0. The tournament is also known for Neville D'Souza's hat-trick against Australia in the quarterfinals. D'Souza's hat-trick was the first hat-trick scored by an Asian in Olympic history.
After their good performance during the Summer Olympics, India participated in the 1958 Asian Games in Tokyo. The team once again finished fourth, losing the bronze-medal match to Indonesia 4–1. The next year the team traveled to Malaysia where they took part in the Merdeka Cup and finished as the tournament runners-up.
India began the 1960s with 1960 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers. Despite the qualifiers for the West Zone being held in Kochi, India finished last in their qualification group and thus failed to qualify for the tournament. Despite the set-back, India went on to win the gold medal during the Asian Games for the second time in 1962. The team defeated South Korea 2–1 to win their second major championship.
Two years later, following their Asian Games triumph, India participated in the 1964 AFC Asian Cup after all the other teams in their qualification group withdrew. Despite their automatic entry into the continental tournament, India managed to finish as the runners-up during the tournament, losing out to the hosts, Israel, by two points. This remains India's best performance in the AFC Asian Cup.
India returned to the Asian Games in 1966. Despite their performance two years prior during the AFC Asian Cup, India could not go beyond the group stage as the team finished third, behind Japan and Iran. Four years later, during the 1970 Asian Games, India came back and took third place during the tournament. The team defeated Japan 1–0 during the bronze-medal match.
In 1974, India's performance in the Asian Games once again sharply declined as they finished the 1974 edition in last place in their group, losing all three matches, scoring two, and conceding 14 goals in the first round. India then showed steady improvement during the 1978 tournament, finishing second in their group of three. The team were then knocked-out in the next round, finishing last in their group with three defeats from three matches. The 1982 tournament proved to be better for India as the side managed to qualify for the quarter-finals before losing to Saudi Arabia 1–0.
In 1984, India managed to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup for the first time since their second place triumph in 1964. During the 1984 tournament, India finished in last place in their five team group in the first round. India's only non-defeat during the tournament came against Iran, a 0–0 draw.
Despite India's decline from a major football power in Asia, the team still managed to assert its dominance as the top team in South Asia. India managed to win the football competition of the South Asian Games in 1985 and then again won the gold medal in 1987. The team then began the 1990s by winning the inaugural SAFF Championship in 1993. The team ended the 20th century by winning the SAFF Championship again in 1997 and 1999.
India's first competitive matches of the 21st century were the 2002 FIFA World Cup first round qualifiers. Despite a very bright start, defeating the United Arab Emirates 1–0, drawing Yemen 1–1, as well as two victories over Brunei, including a 5–0 victory in Bangalore, India finished a point away from qualification for the next round. In 2003, India took part in the 2003 SAFF Championship. The team qualified for the semi-finals but fell to Bangladesh 2–1.
Later in 2003, India participated in the Afro-Asian Games being held in Hyderabad. Under the coaching of Stephen Constantine, India managed to make it to the final of the tournament after defeating Zimbabwe, a team ranked 85 places above India in the FIFA rankings at the time, 5–3. Despite the major victory, during the gold-medal match India were defeated 1–0 by Uzbekistan U21. Due to this achievement, Constantine was voted as the Asian Football Confederation's Manager of the Month for October 2003. The tournament result also gave India more recognition around the country and around the world.
Constantine was replaced by Syed Nayeemuddin in 2005 but the Indian head coach only lasted for a little over a year as India suffered many heavy defeats during the 2007 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers. During this time India were defeated 6–0 by Japan, 3–0 by Saudi Arabia and Yemen respectively at home, and 7–1 away in Jeddah. Former Malmö and China coach Bob Houghton was brought in as head coach in May 2006.
Under Houghton, India witnessed massive improvement in their football standing. In August 2007, Houghton won the country the restarted Nehru Cup after India defeated Syria 1–0 in the final. Pappachen Pradeep scored the winning goal for India that match. The next year, Houghton led India during the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup, which was hosted in Hyderabad and Delhi. During the tournament, India breezed through the group stage before defeating Myanmar in the semi-finals. In the final against Tajikistan, India, through a Sunil Chhetri hat-trick, won the match 4–1. The victory not only earned India the championship but it also allowed India to qualify for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, the nation's first Asian Cup appearance in 27 years. In order to prepare for the Asian Cup, Houghton had the team stay together as a squad for eight months from June 2010 till the start of the tournament, meaning the players would not play for their clubs.
India were drawn into Group C for the Asian Cup with Australia, South Korea, and Bahrain. Despite staying together as a team for eight months, India lost all three of their matches during the Asian Cup, including a 4–0 defeat to Australia. Despite the results, India were still praised by fans and pundits for their valiant efforts during the tournament.
After participating the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, India's campaign to qualify for the 2015 Asian Cup began in February 2011 with the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers. Bob Houghton decided to change the makeup of the India squad, replacing many of the aging players from the Asian Cup with some young players from the AIFF development side in the I-League, Indian Arrows. Even with a young side, India managed to qualify for the AFC Challenge Cup. Despite successfully qualifying for the AFC Challenge Cup, the AIFF decided to terminate the contract of Bob Houghton.
After having Dempo coach, Armando Colaco, as interim head coach, the AIFF signed Savio Medeira as head coach in October 2011. Despite leading India to another SAFF Championship victory, Medeira led India to their worst performance in the AFC Challenge Cup in March 2012. The team lost all three of their group matches, unable to score a single goal during the tournament. After the tournament, Medeira was replaced as head coach by Dutchman, Wim Koevermans. Koeverman's first job as head coach was the 2012 Nehru Cup. India won their third successive Nehru Cup, defeating Cameroon's B side on penalties.
In March 2013, India failed to qualify for the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup and thus also failed to qualify for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup. The team also failed to retain the SAFF Championship, losing 2–0 to Afghanistan in the 2013 final. After more bad results in friendlies, Koevermans resigned as head coach in October 2014.
By March 2015, after not playing any matches, India reached their lowest FIFA ranking position of 173. A couple months prior, Stephen Constantine was re-hired as the head coach after first leading India more than a decade before. Constantine's first major assignment back as the India head coach were the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. After making it through the first round of qualifiers, India crashed out during the second round, losing seven of their eight matches and thus, once again, failed to qualify for the World Cup.
Despite failure to qualify for the World Cup, India managed to reach the third round of 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers after defeating Laos in the play-off round on aggregate 7–1. On 11 October 2017, India secured qualification for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup after a 4–1 victory over Macau.
Despite being defeated at 2018 SAFF Championship final by 1–2 to Maldives in September 2018, India regained the momentum with some friendlies against China, Jordan and Oman as they began the 2019 AFC Asian Cup with a 4–1 victory against Thailand and is the biggest ever Asia cup win for the team and its first one in 55 years. Nevertheless, they lost both of their next two group matches against UAE and Bahrain by 0−2 and 0−1 respectively and finished at the bottom of the group, thus failed to move to knock out stage. Stephen Constantine immediately resigned from his position as head coach following the failure to progress further in the tournament .
Blue as the national colour for India was soon made more prominent due to the success of the India cricket team and field hockey teams. The football team, however, has used some sort of shade of blue for decades.
At the turn of the 21st century, India wore a sky blue shirt with black pants and sky blue socks as their kit. In 2002, the All India Football Federation signed a deal with German manufacturer Adidas to produce the India kit. The first kit made by Adidas was all-white. After four years with Adidas, the AIFF signed an agreement with American company Nike on 27 February 2006. The deal was for seven years. Nike's first kits for India were in darker blue while the away kit was changed from white to orange. For the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, in which India were participating, Nike designed India's kit using the same template it used for other national teams such as Brazil. In January 2013. it was announced that the AIFF's deal with Nike was extended for an extra five years. In September 2017, prior to the India U17 side's participation in the FIFA U-17 World Cup, Nike unveiled an all sky blue kit for the India senior and youth teams. A year later, on 17 December 2018, it was announced that Indian manufacturer Six5Six would replace Nike as India's kit maker. In becoming India's new kit makers, Six5Six also became the first manufacturer to pay for the rights to produce India kits, after both Nike and Adidas didn't pay. Six5Six unveiled their first jersey for the team before the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, with the home colour had a similar sky blue shade and the away colour was changed to white from orange but both the jerseys had unique design embellished on the sleeves representing tiger stripes to pay homage to the Indian football fans, who affectionately calls the team "Blue Tigers"
Numerous venues around India have hosted home matches for the national team. There is no specific home ground for the India national team. India matches have been played at stadiums such as the Salt Lake Stadium at Kolkata, the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium at Delhi, the Fatorda Stadium at Margao, the Sree Kanteerava Stadium at Bangalore, the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium at Kochi, the Mumbai Football Arena at Mumbai and the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium at Guwahati.
In recent times, competitions like 2011 SAFF Championship and 2012 Nehru Cup was held at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi, the 2015 SAFF Championship was held at Trivandrum International Stadium, 2017 Hero Tri-Nation Series and 2018 Intercontinental Cup was held at Mumbai Football Arena and Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Sree Kanteerava Stadium and Fatorda stadium have seen AFC Asian Cup and FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Till the 21st century, the Indian football fans were mostly concentrated and based separately in West Bengal, North-East India, Goa and Kerala. Other than matches in Asian Games, Nehru Cup or SAFF Championship, crowd showed up in fewer numbers in the team's history as the fans were not organised under any single banner as seen in the Europe or South America. Fans of different local clubs used to support the team in their respective venues but were not clubbed together to have a single cause, that of the national team, until 2017 when "Blue Pilgrims" was established as the first organised fan club for the national team.
The Blue Pilgrims formed with a motive to support the national team and the U-17 team during the historic 2017 U17 World Cup, India's first ever FIFA competition participation. Started with 300 odd fans, now they are in thousands as a unification of fans from different regions with different allegiances came together for just one cause, the Blue Tigers. They call themselves the devotees of the Blue Tigers, and their motto is to support India national football teams of all gender and age, wherever they play and for such dedication they are called as the 12th man of the team.
The Blue pilgrims's most common chants are "Oh when the blues go marching in, I wanna be in that number!" and "Hum honge kaamyab" (We shall overcome). Since its formation, the Blue Pilgrims use to celebrate after every match with Viking clap with the national team members. Fans of the India national team display the country's tricolour national flag and also wear the blue jerseys as to be part of the team, and the Blue Pilgrims use to display the Blue Pilgrims banner along with "Inquilab-e-Indian football" (Revolution of Indian football). On 2 June 2018, then captain Sunil Chhetri posted a video on social media, urging the fan to come out at Mumbai to support the team after a poor crowd appearance of only 2569 at a match against Chinese Taipei in the 2018 Intercontinental Cup where India achieved a massive victory by 5−0, where Chhetri scored a hat-trick but very few people to celebrate with. Responding to captain's call the Blue Pilgrims and football supporters made sure the stadiums remain full in the next matches and on the final of that tournament, the Blue Pilgrims displayed a 30 feet tall 3D tifo of a Blue tiger, the first ever in team's history.
Since independence, there have been twenty-nine different head coaches for the India national team, out of which, eleven being foreign coaches. The most successful head coach for India was Syed Abdul Rahim, who led India to gold in both the 1951 and 1962 Asian Games while also achieving a fourth-place finish during the 1956 Summer Olympics. The most successful foreign head coaches for India are Bob Houghton and Stephen Constantine, both of them helped the team to qualify for AFC Asian Cup. With Houghton in charge from 2006 to 2011, India won the Nehru Cup twice and the AFC Challenge Cup in 2008 which allowed India to participate in their first AFC Asian Cup for 27 years. Since, Houghton resigned as India team Head coach in 2011, the Indian national team's FIFA ranking touched its lowest at 173 in the team history in March 2015, but Constantine, who was appointed for the second time as the head coach of India, revived the Indian team from its meagre condition. Under him, the team remained unbeaten for two years from June 2016 to March 2018 winning 11 matches and drawn 2 matches, which helped them to qualify for 2019 AFC Asian Cup after 8 years since Houghton left. He also helped the team to reach a better FIFA ranking of 96 in July 2017, which was best in last 21 years.
|List of head coaches of India|
|No.||Pos.||Player||Date of birth (age)||Caps||Goals||Club|
|1||GK||Gurpreet Singh Sandhu||3 February 1992||30||0||Bengaluru|
|16||GK||Vishal Kaith||22 July 1996||4||0||Pune City|
|23||GK||Amrinder Singh||27 May 1993||3||0||Mumbai City|
|2||DF||Salam Ranjan Singh||4 December 1995||11||0||East Bengal|
|3||DF||Subhasish Bose||18 August 1995||14||0||Mumbai City|
|4||DF||Sarthak Golui||3 November 1997||3||0||Pune City|
|5||DF||Sandesh Jhingan||21 July 1993||31||4||Kerala Blasters|
|20||DF||Pritam Kotal||8 September 1993||32||0||ATK|
|21||DF||Narayan Das||25 September 1993||29||1||Delhi Dynamos|
|22||DF||Anas Edathodika||15 February 1987||19||0||Kerala Blasters|
|6||MF||Germanpreet Singh||24 June 1996||8||0||Chennaiyin|
|7||MF||Anirudh Thapa||15 January 1998||17||1||Chennaiyin|
|8||MF||Vinit Rai||11 October 1997||6||0||Delhi Dynamos|
|13||MF||Ashique Kuruniyan||17 June 1997||12||1||Pune City|
|14||MF||Pronay Halder||25 February 1993||17||1||ATK|
|15||MF||Udanta Singh||14 June 1996||18||1||Bengaluru|
|17||MF||Rowllin Borges||5 June 1992||29||2||NorthEast United|
|18||MF||Jackichand Singh||17 March 1992||18||2||Goa|
|19||MF||Halicharan Narzary||10 May 1994||26||0||Kerala Blasters|
|9||FW||Sumeet Passi||12 September 1994||8||3||Jamshedpur|
|10||FW||Balwant Singh||15 December 1986||10||3||ATK|
|11||FW||Sunil Chhetri||3 August 1984||107||67||Bengaluru|
|12||FW||Jeje Lalpekhlua||7 January 1991||56||23||Chennaiyin|
The following footballers were part of a national selection in the past 12 months, but are not part of the current squad.
|Pos.||Player||Date of birth (age)||Caps||Goals||Club||Latest call-up|
|GK||Arindam Bhattacharya||20 May 1989||0||0||ATK||2019 AFC Asian Cup PRE|
|GK||Karanjit Singh||8 January 1986||18||0||Chennaiyin||v. China PR, 13 October 2018|
|GK||Kamaljit Singh||28 December 1995||0||0||Pune City||2018 SAFF Championship|
|GK||Sukhdev Patil||23 November 1998||0||0||Delhi Dynamos||2018 SAFF Championship|
|GK||Kabir Thaufiq||10 May 1997||0||0||Chennai City||2018 SAFF Championship PRE|
|GK||Prabhsukhan Singh Gill||2 January 2001||0||0||Indian Arrows||2018 SAFF Championship PRE|
|GK||Sanjiban Ghosh||6 July 1991||0||0||Chennaiyin||2018 Intercontinental Cup PRE|
|DF||Lalruatthara||17 January 1995||3||0||Kerala Blasters||2019 AFC Asian Cup PRE|
|DF||Jerry Lalrinzuala||30 July 1998||7||0||Chennaiyin||2019 AFC Asian Cup PRE|
|DF||Nishu Kumar||5 November 1997||1||1||Bengaluru||2019 AFC Asian Cup PRE|
|DF||Davinder Singh||23 September 1995||3||0||Mumbai City||2018 SAFF Championship|
|DF||Mohammad Sajid Dhot||10 December 1997||1||0||Delhi Dynamos||2018 SAFF Championship|
|DF||Chinglensana Singh||27 November 1996||0||0||Goa||2018 SAFF Championship PRE|
|DF||Umesh Perambra||11 February 1997||0||0||Reliance Youth Foundation||2018 SAFF Championship PRE|
|MF||Lallianzuala Chhangte||8 June 1997||6||3||Delhi Dynamos||2019 AFC Asian Cup PRE|
|MF||Bikash Jairu||10 November 1990||11||0||Jamshedpur||2019 AFC Asian Cup PRE|
|MF||Nikhil Poojari||3 September 1995||7||1||Pune City||2019 AFC Asian Cup PRE|
|MF||Sahal Abdul Samad||1 April 1997||0||0||Kerala Blasters||2019 AFC Asian Cup PRE|
|MF||Komal Thatal||18 September 2000||0||0||ATK||2019 AFC Asian Cup PRE|
|MF||Souvik Chakrabarti||12 July 1991||0||0||Mumbai City||v. China PR, 13 October 2018|
|MF||Vignesh Dakshinamurthy||5 March 1998||2||0||Mumbai City||2018 SAFF Championship|
|MF||Nanda Kumar||20 December 1995||0||0||Delhi Dynamos||2018 SAFF Championship PRE|
|MF||Arjun Jayaraj||5 March 1996||0||0||Gokulam Kerala||2018 SAFF Championship PRE|
|MF||Isaac Vanmalsawma||15 September 1996||0||0||Chennaiyin||2018 SAFF Championship PRE|
|MF||Rohit Kumar||1 April 1997||0||0||Pune City||2018 SAFF Championship PRE|
|MF||Rahim Ali||21 April 2000||0||0||Indian Arrows||2018 SAFF Championship PRE|
|MF||Suresh Singh Wangjam||7 August 2000||0||0||Indian Arrows||2018 SAFF Championship PRE|
|MF||Mohammed Rafique||20 September 1992||12||1||Mumbai City||v. Kenya, 10 June 2018|
|MF||Laldanmawia Ralte||19 December 1992||1||0||East Bengal||v. Kenya, 10 June 2018|
|MF||Dhanpal Ganesh||13 June 1994||6||0||Chennaiyin||2018 Intercontinental Cup PRE|
|FW||Manvir Singh||6 November 1995||6||3||Goa||2019 AFC Asian Cup PRE|
|FW||Farukh Choudhary||8 November 1996||5||0||Jamshedpur||2019 AFC Asian Cup PRE|
|FW||Hitesh Sharma||25 December 1997||2||0||ATK||2018 SAFF Championship|
|FW||Daniel Lalhlimpuia||12 September 1997||3||0||Delhi Dynamos||2018 SAFF Championship PRE|
|FW||Kivi Zhimomi||3 May 1996||0||0||NorthEast United||2018 SAFF Championship PRE|
|FW||Rahul K.P||16 March 2000||0||0||Indian Arrows||2018 SAFF Championship PRE|
|FW||Alen Deory||12 January 1996||1||0||Mumbai City||v. Kenya, 10 June 2018|
|FW||Seiminlen Doungel||3 January 1994||2||0||Kerala Blasters||v. Kyrgyzstan, 27 March 2018|
PRE = Preliminary squad
During the early 20th century, India produced one of the best footballers from Asia at that time, Gostha Pal. Pal began playing professional football at the age of 16 in 1911, becoming India's first captain, and was considered one of the best defenders India had ever produced. He was also the first footballer to be awarded Padma Shree in the year 1962 and in 1998, the Government of India introduced a postal stamp in his honour. In the later 1930s, players like Lumsden, Noor Mohammed, Rahim, K.Prosad, A Nandi under the leadership of K.Bhattacharya played for India who scored a total of 56 goals in 17 matches during the 1938 Australia tour out of which 5 matches were against Australia, where Lumsden scored the first international hat-trick for India.
India's first captain after the country gained independence was Talimeren Ao. At a very young age, using footballs made out of rags, Ao gradually improved his skills as a defensive midfielder. He was given the responsibility of leading the team at the 1948 Olympics, India's first major tournament and also was the flag bearer of Indian contingents in London. Also during this era, India produced Sailen Manna, one of the country's best defenders. Manna and was given the India captaincy in 1951 during the Asian Games. He led the team to the Gold Medal, India's first major internationally honour. He also captained the team during the 1952 Olympics and 1954 Asian Games. In 1953, England Football Association rated Manna among "10 Best Skippers of the World" in its yearbook., awarded Padma Shri by Government of India in 1971 and AIFF honoured him as "AIFF Player-of-the-Milennium" in 2000.
During India's golden era between the 1950s and early 60s, the country produced coveted strikers such as Sheoo Mewalal, Neville D'Souza, Chuni Goswami and Tulsidas Balaram. Mewalal played was India's starting striker during the 1948 Olympics, 1952 Olympics and 1951 Asian games where he ended as the tournament top goalscorer with four goals. Mewalal was the first Indian player to score a hat-trick since the country gained independence when he scored it against Burma during the 1952 Colombo Cup. D'Souza meanwhile became the first Asian player to score a hat-trick at the Olympic Games, scoring a hat-trick against Australia during the 1956 Olympics. D'Souza also tied for top goalscorer in that edition of the Olympics, which helped India reach the semi-finals. Goswami represented India at the 1958 Asian Games and captained the side during the 1962 Asian Games, 1960 Olympics and the 1964 Asian Cup. He was bestowed with Padma Shri by Government of India and AFC honoured him as "Best Striker of Asia" in 1962.
P.K. Banerjee, a winger, represented India at the 1956 Olympics and later captained the side during the 1960 Olympics, was named as the best "Indian player of the 20th Century". Peter Thangaraj was the starting goalkeeper for India during the later stage of India's golden era, being named as best "Indian keeper of the 20th Century" by IFFHS. P.K.Banerjee was honoured with Padma Shri by Government of India in 1990 and in 2004 FIFA bestowed Banerjee with "FIFA Centennial Order of Merit" Award, the highest honour awarded by FIFA
During the 1970s to the 2000s, India saw a decline in their results. Despite the lack of tournament victories, the country managed to produce players like Syed Nayeemuddin who led India to bronze at the 1970 Asian Games. During the 1990s, I. M. Vijayan, India's best player at the time, was capped 66 times for India while scoring 29 goals and captaining the team several times.
In 1995, Bhaichung Bhutia debuted for India. With Bhutia, India qualified for the AFC Asian Cup after a drought of 27 years. He was the captain of the team for over ten years. Considered one of the greatest footballers of India, he is the second-most-capped player of India with 82 caps and has scored 27 times for India. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2008 and IFFHS listed him among the legendary players of football in 2016. Under Bhutia's captaincy Sunil Chettri debuted for India who is now the only footballer in India's history to have played 100 international matches and is the all-time highest goal-scorer of India. He has led the national team to many victories, most importantly qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup and under his leadership the team achieved its highest FIFA ranking of 96 after twentyone years. His goal-scoring ability and skills make him the only Indian striker to score three hat-tricks for India.
AFC Asian Cup
|27 March 2018 2019 ACQ||Kyrgyzstan||2–1||India||Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan|
|Report||Lalpekhlua 88'||Stadium: Dolen Omurzakov Stadium|
Referee: Ammar Al-Jeneibi (United Arab Emirates)
|1 June 2018 Intercontinental Cup||India||5–0||Chinese Taipei||Mumbai, India|
|Chhetri 14', 34', 60'
U. Singh 48'
|Report||Stadium: Mumbai Football Arena|
Referee: Nivon Robesh Gamini (Sri Lanka)
|4 June 2018 Intercontinental Cup||India||3–0||Kenya||Mumbai, India|
|Chhetri 68' (pen.), 90+2'
|Report||Stadium: Mumbai Football Arena|
Referee: Hettikamkanamge Perera (Sri Lanka)
|7 June 2018 Intercontinental Cup||India||1–2||New Zealand||Mumbai, India|
|Chhetri 48'||Report||De Jong 49'
|Stadium: Mumbai Football Arena|
|10 June 2018 Intercontinental Cup||India||2–0||Kenya||Mumbai, India|
|Chhetri 8', 29'||Report||Stadium: Mumbai Football Arena|
Referee: Nivon Robesh Gamini (Sri Lanka)
|5 September 2018 SAFF G.S.||India||2–0||Sri Lanka||Dhaka, Bangladesh|
|Report||Stadium: Bangabandhu National Stadium|
Referee: Hanna Hattab (Syria)
|9 September 2018 SAFF G.S.||India||2–0||Maldives||Dhaka, Bangladesh|
M. Singh 44'
|Report||Stadium: Bangabandhu National Stadium|
Referee: Hanna Hattab (Syria)
|12 September 2018 SAFF S.F.||India||3–1||Pakistan||Dhaka, Bangladesh|
|M. Singh 48', 69'
|Report||Mu. Ali 88'||Stadium: Bangabandhu National Stadium|
Referee: Sivakorn Pu-udom (Thailand)
|15 September 2018 SAFF Final||Maldives||2–1||India||Dhaka, Bangladesh|
|Report||Passi 90+2'||Stadium: Bangabandhu National Stadium|
Referee: Hasan Akrami (Iran)
|13 October 2018 Friendly||China PR||0–0||India||Suzhou, China|
|Report||Stadium: Suzhou Sports Center|
Referee: Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan)
|17 November 2018 Friendly||Jordan||2–1||India||Amman, Jordan|
|Report||N. Kumar 61'||Stadium: King Abdullah II Stadium|
Referee: Wathik Mohammed Al Baag (Iraq)
|27 December 2018 Friendly||Oman||0–0||India||Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates|
|Report||Stadium: Baniyas Stadium|
|6 January Asian Cup G.S.||Thailand||1–4||India||Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates|
|19:00 IST||Dangda 33'||Report||Chhetri 27' (pen.), 46'
|Stadium: Al Nahyan Stadium|
Referee: Liu Kwok Man (Hong Kong)
|10 January Asian Cup G.S.||India||0–2||United Arab Emirates||Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates|
|21:30 IST||Report||Khalf. Mubarak 41'
|Stadium: Zayed Sports City Stadium|
Referee: César Arturo Ramos (Mexico)
|14 January Asian Cup G.S.||India||0–1||Bahrain||Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates|
|21:30 IST||Report||Rashid 90+1' (pen.)||Stadium: Sharjah Stadium|
Referee: Ilgiz Tantashev (Uzbekistan)
India has never participated in a FIFA World Cup. After gaining independence in 1947, India managed to qualify for the World Cup held in 1950. This was due to Myanmar, Indonesia, and the Philippines withdrawing from qualification. However, prior to the start of the tournament, India themselves withdrew due to the expenses required in getting the team to Brazil. Other reasons cited for why India withdrew include FIFA not allowing Indian players to play in the tournament barefoot and the All India Football Federation not considering the World Cup an important tournament compared to the Olympics.
After withdrawing from the 1950 FIFA World Cup, India didn't enter the qualifying rounds of the tournament between 1954 and 1982. Since the 1986 qualifiers, with the exception of the 1990 edition of the tournament, the team started to participate in qualifiers but have yet to qualify for the tournament again.
|FIFA World Cup record||FIFA World Cup qualification record|
|1930||Did not enter||Did not enter|
|1950||Qualified but withdrew||None|
|1954||Denied by FIFA||None|
|Did not enter||Did not enter|
|1986||Did not qualify||6||2||3||1||7||6|
|1990||Withdrew from qualification|
|2022||To be determined||To be determined|
|2026||To be determined||To be determined|
India has qualified for the AFC Asian Cup four times. The team played their first Asian Cup in 1964. The team managed to qualify following other nations refusal to play against India due to political reasons. India managed to finish the tournament as runners-up to hosts Israel, with Inder Singh finishing as joint top-scorer. Since then India has failed to progress beyond the first round of the Asian Cup with their participation at the 1984 and 2011 Asian Cup and the most recent being the 2019 Asian Cup.
|AFC Asian Cup record||AFC Asian Cup qualification record|
|1956||Did not enter||Did not enter|
|1960||Did not qualify||6||2||0||4||7||9|
|1968||Did not enter||Did not enter|
|Did not qualify||3||0||1||2||2||6|
|Did not qualify||21||2||4||15||17||57|
|2011||Group stage||16th||3||0||0||3||3||13||2008 AFC Challenge Cup winners|
|2015||Did not qualify||Failed to win 2012 & did not qualify for 2014 AFC Challenge Cup|
India competed in four straight Olympic football tournaments between 1948 and 1960. Their sole 1948 Olympics match against France was also India's first ever international match since the country gained independence in 1947. During the match, a majority of the Indian side played barefoot. The match ended in a 2–1 defeat, with Sarangapani Raman scoring the lone goal for India. India then returned to the Olympics four years later where they took on Yugoslavia in the preliminary rounds. The team suffered a 10–1 defeat, India's largest margin of defeat, and were knocked out.
Four years later, during the 1956 Olympics, India managed to reach the semi-finals and finish fourth. After India's first round opponents, Hungary, withdrew from the tournament, the team played against hosts Australia in the quarter-finals. A Neville D'Souza hat-trick, the first by an Asian footballer in the Olympics, helped India win 4–2. However, in the semi-finals, India once again suffered defeat against Yugoslavia, going down 4–1. In the bronze medal match, India were defeated 3–0 by Bulgaria.
|Summer Olympics record||Summer Olympics qualification record|
|1908–1936||Did not enter||Did not enter|
|1948||Round 1||11th||1||0||0||1||1||2||Qualified automatically|
|1964–1988||Did not qualify||20||6||1||13||34||38|
|1992 – present||See India national under-23 team||See India national under-23 team|
|Total||Semi-finals||4 / 17||8||1||1||6||10||27||24||10||1||13||47||42|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to India national association football team.|