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India national football team

India
Nickname(s)Blue Tigers[1]
AssociationAll India Football Federation (AIFF)
ConfederationAFC (Asia)
Sub-confederationSAFF (South Asia)
Head coachStephen Constantine
CaptainGurpreet Singh Sandhu[2]
Most capsSunil Chhetri (103)[3]
Top scorerSunil Chhetri (65)[3]
Home stadiumVarious
FIFA codeIND
First colours
Second colours
FIFA ranking
Current 97 Steady (29 November 2018)[4]
Highest94[5] (February 1996)
Lowest173[6] (March 2015)
Elo ranking
Current 156 Increase 13 (13 December 2018)[7]
Highest30[8] (March 1952)
Lowest186[8] (September 2015)
First international
Pre-independence:
 Australia 5–3 India India
(Sydney, Australia; 3 September 1938)
Post-independence:
India India 1–2 France 
(London, England; 31 July 1948)
Biggest win
 Australia 1–7 India India
(Sydney, Australia; 12 December 1956)
India India 6–0 Cambodia 
(New Delhi, India; 17 August 2007)
Biggest defeat
 Yugoslavia 10–1 India India
(Helsinki, Finland; 15 July 1952)
Asian Cup
Appearances3 (first in 1964)
Best resultRunners-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 the other nations in their qualification group withdrew. However, India withdrew prior to the beginning of the tournament. The team has also appeared three 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 six 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 65 goals. Chhetri is also India's most-capped player, with 103 international appearances.

History

Early years

India side that participated in the 1948 Summer Olympics match against France.

Football teams consisting of entirely Indian players started to tour Australia, Japan, Indonesia, and Thailand during the late 1930s.[9] 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.[9]

Golden years (1950s–1960s)

In 1950, India managed to qualify for the 1950 FIFA World Cup, which was scheduled to take place in Brazil.[10] This was due to all their opponents during qualifying withdrawing from the pre-tournament qualifiers.[10] 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.[10]

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.[11][12] 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.[10] Since then, India has not come close to qualifying for another World Cup.[13]

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.[14] In March 1951, Rahim lead 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.[15] Sahu Mewalal scored the winning goal for India in that match.[15] 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.[16] Upon returning to India, the AIFF made it mandatory for footballers to wear boots.[9] 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.[17]

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.[18] 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.[19] 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.[19]

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.[20] The next year the team traveled to Malaysia where they took part in the Merdeka Cup and finished as the tournament runners-up.[21]

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.[22] 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.[23]

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.[24]

Decline (1970s–2000)

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.[25] 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.[26]

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.[27] 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.[28] 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.[29]

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.[30] India's only non-defeat during the tournament came against Iran, a 0–0 draw.[30]

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.[31] The team then began the 1990s by winning the inaugural SAFF Championship in 1993.[32] The team ended the 20th century by winning the SAFF Championship again in 1997 and 1999.[32]

Resurgence (2000–2011)

Sunil Chhetri celebrating after scoring during the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup.

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.[33] In 2003, India took part in the 2003 SAFF Championship. The team qualified for the semi-finals but fell to Bangladesh 2–1.[34]

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.[35] Despite the major victory, during the gold-medal match India were defeated 1–0 by Uzbekistan U21.[36] 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.[35]

India celebrating after winning the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup.

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.[37] 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.[38] Former Malmö and China coach Bob Houghton was brought in as head coach in May 2006.[39]

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.[40] Pappachen Pradeep scored the winning goal for India that match. The next year, Houghton lead 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.[41] 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.[42]

India were drawn into Group C for the Asian Cup with Australia, South Korea, and Bahrain.[43] 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.[44] Despite the results, India were still praised by fans and pundits for their valiant efforts during the tournament.[44]

2011–present

After participating the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, India's camaign 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.[45] Even with a young side, India managed to qualify for the AFC Challenge Cup.[46] Despite successfully qualifying for the AFC Challenge Cup, the AIFF decided to terminate the contract of Bob Houghton.[47]

After having Dempo coach, Armando Colaco, as interim head coach, the AIFF signed Savio Medeira as head coach in October 2011.[48] Despite leading India to another SAFF Championship victory, Medeira lead 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.[49] After the tournament, Medeira was replaced as head coach by Dutchman, Wim Koevermans.[50] 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.[51]

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.[52] The team also failed to retain the SAFF Championship, losing 2–0 to Afghanistan in the 2013 final.[53] After more bad results in friendlies, Koevermans resigned as head coach in October 2014.[54]

By March 2015, after not playing any matches, India reached their lowest FIFA ranking position of 173.[55] A couple months prior, Stephen Constantine was re-hired as the head coach after first leading India more than a decade before.[56] 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.[57]

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.[58] On 11 October 2017, India secured qualification for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup after a 4–1 victory over Macau.[59]

Kit and colours

Photo of eleven men, six standing and five kneeling down, inside a stadium
India in 2007, wearing their traditional blue jersey.

The India national team plays in blue, the colour of the Ashoka Chakra on the Indian flag.[60] The other colours on the flag, saffron, white, and India green, were deemed too controversial to be used as the main colour. Green was especially controversial due to it being the colour of India's neighbor's Pakistan.[60] Blue as the national colour for India was soon made more prominant due to the success of the India cricket team.[61] Indian sports teams, such as the cricket and field hockey teams, were also known to use yellow as a primary colour. Yellow was also used for India during the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics.[60] The football team, however, has used some sort of shade of blue for decades.[62]

At the turn of the 21st century, India wore a sky blue shirt with black pants and sky blue socks as their kit.[62] In 2002, the All India Football Federation signed a deal with German manufacturer Adidas to produce the India kit.[63] The first kit made by Adidas was all-white.[63] After four years with Adidas, the AIFF signed an agreement with American company Nike on 27 February 2006.[64] The deal was for seven years.[64] Nike's first kits for India were in darker blue while the away kit was changed from white to orange.[65] For the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, in which India were participating, Nike designed India's kit using the same template it used for bigger national teams such as Brazil.[66] In January 2013. it was announced that the AIFF's deal with Nike was extended for an extra five years.[67] 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.[68]

Home stadiums

Aerial photo of packed stadium
Stadium interior, photographed from the grandstand
The Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata and the Ambedkar Stadium in Delhi

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 in Kolkata, the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi, the Fatorda Stadium in Goa, the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bangalore, the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi, and the Mumbai Football Arena in Mumbai.[69][70][71][72][73]

Crowds for India matches tend to depend on the venue, opponent, and competition. The 2007 and 2009 Nehru Cup Finals managed to draw full crowds at the Ambedkar Stadium for India[74], and in 2011, fans managed to fill half the 60,000 capacity Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi during India's victory in the 2011 SAFF Championship over Afghanistan.[75] In June 2018, supporters filled the Mumbai Football Arena for India's Intercontinental Cup match against Kenya after a plea from India's captain Sunil Chhetri went viral on social media.[76]

Head coaches

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 lead India to gold in both the 1951 and 1962 Asian Games while also achieving a fourth-place finish during the 1956 Summer Olympics.[77] The most successful foreign head coach for India was Bob Houghton, who coached the side from 2006 to 2011.[78] With Houghton in charge, 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.[78]

Portrait of a seriously-looking man
Stephen Constantine, India's current head coach (since 2015)
List of head coaches of India

Players

Current squad

The following 34 players were called up for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup preparatory camp.[136]
Caps and goals are correct as of 17 November 2018 after the match against Jordan.

No. Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1GK Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (1992-02-03) 3 February 1992 (age 26) 26 0 India Bengaluru
1GK Vishal Kaith (1996-07-22) 22 July 1996 (age 22) 4 0 India Pune City
1GK Amrinder Singh (1993-05-27) 27 May 1993 (age 25) 2 0 India Mumbai City
1GK Arindam Bhattacharya (1989-05-20) 20 May 1989 (age 29) 0 0 India ATK

2DF Narayan Das (1993-09-25) 25 September 1993 (age 25) 28 1 India Delhi Dynamos
2DF Pritam Kotal (1993-08-09) 9 August 1993 (age 25) 28 0 India Delhi Dynamos
2DF Sandesh Jhingan (1993-07-21) 21 July 1993 (age 25) 27 4 India Kerala Blasters
2DF Anas Edathodika (1987-02-15) 15 February 1987 (age 31) 15 0 India Kerala Blasters
2DF Subhasish Bose (1995-08-18) 18 August 1995 (age 23) 10 0 India Mumbai City
2DF Salam Ranjan Singh (1995-12-04) 4 December 1995 (age 23) 9 0 India East Bengal
2DF Lalruatthara (1995-01-17) 17 January 1995 (age 23) 3 0 India Kerala Blasters
2DF Sarthak Golui (1997-11-03) 3 November 1997 (age 21) 3 0 India Pune City
2DF Nishu Kumar (1997-11-05) 5 November 1997 (age 21) 1 1 India Bengaluru
2DF Jerry Lalrinzuala (1998-07-13) 13 July 1998 (age 20) 7 0 India Chennaiyin

3MF Rowllin Borges (1992-06-05) 5 June 1992 (age 26) 25 2 India NorthEast United
3MF Halicharan Narzary (1994-05-10) 10 May 1994 (age 24) 22 0 India Kerala Blasters
3MF Jackichand Singh (1992-03-17) 17 March 1992 (age 26) 17 2 India Goa
3MF Pronay Halder (1993-02-25) 25 February 1993 (age 25) 14 1 India ATK
3MF Udanta Singh (1996-06-14) 14 June 1996 (age 22) 14 1 India Bengaluru
3MF Anirudh Thapa (1998-01-15) 15 January 1998 (age 20) 13 0 India Chennaiyin
3MF Bikash Jairu (1990-11-10) 10 November 1990 (age 28) 11 0 India Jamshedpur
3MF Ashique Kuruniyan (1997-06-17) 17 June 1997 (age 21) 8 1 India Pune City
3MF Nikhil Poojari (1995-09-03) 3 September 1995 (age 23) 7 1 India Pune City
3MF Lallianzuala Chhangte (1997-08-06) 6 August 1997 (age 21) 6 3 India Delhi Dynamos
3MF Germanpreet Singh (1996-06-24) 24 June 1996 (age 22) 6 0 India Chennaiyin
3MF Vinit Rai (1997-10-10) 10 October 1997 (age 21) 6 0 India Delhi Dynamos
3MF Sahal Abdul Samad (1997-04-01) 1 April 1997 (age 21) 0 0 India Kerala Blasters
3MF Komal Thatal (2000-09-18) 18 September 2000 (age 18) 0 0 India ATK

4FW Sunil Chhetri (1984-08-03) 3 August 1984 (age 34) 103 65 India Bengaluru
4FW Jeje Lalpekhlua (1991-01-07) 7 January 1991 (age 27) 52 22 India Chennaiyin
4FW Balwant Singh (1986-12-15) 15 December 1986 (age 32) 9 3 India ATK
4FW Sumeet Passi (1995-04-18) 18 April 1995 (age 23) 8 3 India Jamshedpur
4FW Manvir Singh (1995-11-06) 6 November 1995 (age 23) 6 3 India Goa
4FW Farukh Choudhary (1996-11-08) 8 November 1996 (age 22) 5 0 India Jamshedpur

Recent call-ups

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 Karanjit Singh (1986-01-08) 8 January 1986 (age 32) 18 0 India Chennaiyin v.  China PR, 13 October 2018
GK Kamaljit Singh (1995-12-28) 28 December 1995 (age 22) 0 0 India Pune City 2018 SAFF Championship
GK Sukhdev Patil (1998-11-23) 23 November 1998 (age 20) 0 0 India Delhi Dynamos 2018 SAFF Championship
GK Kabir Thaufiq (1997-05-10) 10 May 1997 (age 21) 0 0 India Chennai City 2018 SAFF Championship PRE
GK Prabhsukhan Singh Gill (2001-01-02) 2 January 2001 (age 17) 0 0 India Indian Arrows 2018 SAFF Championship PRE
GK Sanjiban Ghosh (1991-07-06) 6 July 1991 (age 27) 0 0 India Chennaiyin 2018 Intercontinental Cup PRE

DF Davinder Singh (1995-09-23) 23 September 1995 (age 23) 3 0 India Mumbai City 2018 SAFF Championship
DF Mohammad Sajid Dhot (1997-12-10) 10 December 1997 (age 21) 1 0 India Delhi Dynamos 2018 SAFF Championship
DF Lalruatthara (1995-01-17) 17 January 1995 (age 23) 3 0 India Kerala Blasters 2018 SAFF Championship PRE
DF Chinglensana Singh (1996-11-27) 27 November 1996 (age 22) 0 0 India Goa 2018 SAFF Championship PRE
DF Umesh Perambra (1997-02-11) 11 February 1997 (age 21) 0 0 India Reliance Youth Foundation 2018 SAFF Championship PRE

MF Souvik Chakrabarti (1991-07-12) 12 July 1991 (age 27) 0 0 India Mumbai City v.  China PR, 13 October 2018
MF Vignesh Dakshinamurthy (1998-03-05) 5 March 1998 (age 20) 2 0 India Mumbai City 2018 SAFF Championship
MF Nanda Kumar (1995-12-20) 20 December 1995 (age 22) 0 0 India Delhi Dynamos 2018 SAFF Championship PRE
MF Arjun Jayaraj (1996-03-05) 5 March 1996 (age 22) 0 0 India Gokulam Kerala 2018 SAFF Championship PRE
MF Isaac Vanmalsawma (1996-09-15) 15 September 1996 (age 22) 0 0 India Chennaiyin 2018 SAFF Championship PRE
MF Rohit Kumar (1997-04-01) 1 April 1997 (age 21) 0 0 India Pune City 2018 SAFF Championship PRE
MF Rahim Ali (2000-04-21) 21 April 2000 (age 18) 0 0 India Indian Arrows 2018 SAFF Championship PRE
MF Suresh Singh Wangjam (2000-08-07) 7 August 2000 (age 18) 0 0 India Indian Arrows 2018 SAFF Championship PRE
MF Mohammed Rafique (1992-09-20) 20 September 1992 (age 26) 12 1 India Mumbai City v.  Kenya, 10 June 2018
MF Laldanmawia Ralte (1992-12-19) 19 December 1992 (age 25) 1 0 India East Bengal v.  Kenya, 10 June 2018
MF Dhanpal Ganesh (1994-06-13) 13 June 1994 (age 24) 6 0 India Chennaiyin 2018 Intercontinental Cup PRE

FW Hitesh Sharma (1997-12-25) 25 December 1997 (age 20) 2 0 India ATK 2018 SAFF Championship
FW Daniel Lalhlimpuia (1997-09-12) 12 September 1997 (age 21) 3 0 India Delhi Dynamos 2018 SAFF Championship PRE
FW Kivi Zhimomi (1996-05-03) 3 May 1996 (age 22) 0 0 India NorthEast United 2018 SAFF Championship PRE
FW Rahul K.P (2000-03-16) 16 March 2000 (age 18) 0 0 India Indian Arrows 2018 SAFF Championship PRE
FW Alen Deory (1996-01-12) 12 January 1996 (age 22) 1 0 India Mumbai City v.  Kenya, 10 June 2018
FW Seiminlen Doungel (1994-01-03) 3 January 1994 (age 24) 2 0 India Kerala Blasters v.  Kyrgyzstan, 27 March 2018

PRE = Preliminary squad

Notable

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[137] and in 1998, the Government of India introduced a postal stamp in his honour.[138][139]

Postal stamp issued in 2018, to honour Talimeren Ao.

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[140][141] and also was the flag bearer of Indian contingents in London.[142] Also during this era, India produced Sailen Manna, one of the country's best defenders.[143] Manna and was given the India captaincy in 1951 during the Asian Games. He lead the team to the Gold Medal, India's first major internationally honour.[143] He also captained the team during the 1952 Olympics and 1954 Asian Games.[143]

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.[144][145] 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.[146] D'Souza meanwhile became the first Asian player to score a hat-trick at the Olympic Games,[147] scoring a hat-trick against Australia during the 1956 Olympics.[148] D'Souza also tied for top goalscorer in that edition of the Olympics, which helped India reach the semi-finals.[149] Goswami represented India at the 1958 Asian Games and captained the side during the 1962 Asian Games, 1960 Olympics and the 1964 Asian Cup.[150]

P.K. Banerjee, a winger, represented India at the 1956 Olympics and later captained the side during the 1960 Olympics.[151] Peter Thangaraj was the starting goalkeeper for India during the later stage of India's golden era, being named as Asia's best goalkeeper in 1962.[151]

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 lead India to bronze at the 1970 Asian Games.[152] 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.[153]

In 1995, Baichung Bhutia debuted for India. With Bhutia, India qualified for the AFC Asian Cup after a drought of 27 years.[154] He was the captain of the team for over ten years.[155][156][157] 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.[137]

Past squads

Results and schedule

For all past match results of the national team, see the team's results page.

2018

2019

Competitive record

FIFA World Cup

India has never participated in a FIFA World Cup.[158] 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.[158] However, prior to the start of the tournament, India themselves withdrew due to the expenses required in getting the team to Brazil.[158] 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.[158]

After withdrawing from the 1950 FIFA World Cup, India didn't enter the qualifying rounds of the tournament between 1954 and 1982.[159] 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.[159]

Year Final Tournament Qualification
Round Pld W D L F A Pld W D L F A
Uruguay 1930 Did not enter
Italy 1934
France 1938
Brazil 1950 Qualified but withdrew None
Switzerland 1954 Denied by FIFA
Sweden 1958 Did not enter
Chile 1962
England 1966
Mexico 1970
West Germany 1974
Argentina 1978
Spain 1982
Mexico 1986 Did not qualify 6 2 3 1 7 6
Italy 1990 Withdrew from qualification
United States 1994 8 1 1 6 8 22
France 1998 3 1 1 1 3 7
South Korea Japan 2002 6 3 2 1 11 5
Germany 2006 6 1 1 4 2 18
South Africa 2010 2 0 1 1 3 6
Brazil 2014 2 0 1 1 2 5
Russia 2018 10 2 1 7 7 18
Qatar 2022 To be determined
Totals 0/21 0 0 0 0 0 0 43 10 11 22 43 86

AFC Asian Cup

India has qualified for the AFC Asian Cup three 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.[160][161] India managed to finish the tournament as runners-up to hosts Israel, with Inder Singh finishing as joint top-scorer.[161] Since then India has failed to progress beyond the first round of the Asian Cup with their most recent participation being the 2011 Asian Cup.

Year Round Matches Wins Draws Losses GF GA
Hong Kong 1956 Did not enter
South Korea 1960 Did not qualify
Israel 1964 Runners-up 3 2 0 1 5 3
Iran 1968 Did not qualify
Thailand 1972
Iran 1976
Kuwait 1980
Singapore 1984 Round 1 4 0 1 3 0 7
Qatar 1988 Did not qualify
Japan 1992
United Arab Emirates 1996
Lebanon 2000
China 2004
Indonesia Malaysia Thailand Vietnam 2007
Qatar 2011 Round 1 3 0 0 3 3 13
Australia 2015 Did not qualify
United Arab Emirates 2019 Qualified
Totals 3/16 10 2 1 7 8 23

Summer Olympics

Talimeren Ao, leading India out at Cricklefield Stadium to play against France.

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.[9] During the match, a majority of the Indian side played barefoot.[9] The match ended in a 2–1 defeat, with Sarangapani Raman scoring the lone goal for India.[9] 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.[162]

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.[163] 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.[163]

In 1960, India competed in Group D with Hungary, France, and Peru. India ended the group in last place, drawing once.[164] India have since failed to qualify for another Olympic games.

Summer Olympics record
Year Result Position Pld W T L GF GA
19081936 Did not enter
United Kingdom 1948 Round 1 11th 1 0 0 1 1 2
Finland 1952 Preliminaries 1 0 0 1 1 10
Australia 1956 Semi-finals 4th 3 1 0 2 5 9
Italy 1960 Round 1 13th 3 0 1 2 3 6
19641988 Did not qualify
1992 – present See India national under-23 team
Total Semi-finals 4 / 17 8 1 1 6 10 27

Other honours

See also

References

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External links