Sreevidhya Rajeev/ Chennai, Dec 27 (BPNS)
The time span of 1951 to 1962 is believed as the golden age of Indian Football. India become the leading team in Asia, under the guidance of Sayed Abdul Rahim who was known as the architect of modern football.
Indian team started the game by creating a history of success in the 1951 Asian Games. They won the match against Indonesia and Afghanistan 3–0 to reach the final where they defeated Iran by 1–0. In 1952, the team continued its successful journey by winning the Colombo Quadrangular Cup held in Sri Lanka.
India secured three further editions of the Quadrangular Cup, which were held in Burma, Calcutta, and Dhaka in 1953, 1954, and 1955 respectively. India then went on to finish eighth in the 1954 Asian Games held in Manila. India completed fourth in the 1956 Olympics which has been a moment of glory for team India and the Indians as a whole as getting into the last four in an Olympic tournament was a major achievement. India first met hosts Australia, winning 4–2 with Neville D’Souza becoming the first Asian team to net a hat trick in the Olympics and making India the first Asian team that enters into the Olympic semi-finals. They lost 4–1 to Yugoslavia, and it also lost 3-0 scores to Bulgaria.
India took part in the 1958 Asian Games which was held in Tokyo, and the Merdeka Cup 1959 in Malaysia finished second. India went on to win the 1962 Asian Games where they beat South Korea 2–1 in the final. India played in the Merdeka Cup in 1964,1965 and 1966 where they finished second, third and fourth respectively.
Rahim’s death in the early 1960s pegged Indian football back after a successful period. India then took third place in the 1970 Asian Games, beating Japan 1–0 in the third place, play-off. In mid of 1970s, Indian youth team jointly won the Youth Asian Cup with Iran. in 70s, 80s, and 90s, it gradually starts losing its space as a best Asian team. At the same time cricket become the dominant game.
PK Banerjee, Chuni Goswami, and Tulsidas Balaram are important names to be remembered in the golden period of Indian football. In their partnership, India won the 1962 Asian Games. In 12 of the 16 matches these three notable players were part of, between 1958 and 1962, they got 20 of India’s 36 goals scored during that period. Indian football is active and contributed some good players in the ’70s and ’80s through Mohan Bagan, Salgaocar Goa, Mohammedan Sporting, and Kerala Police.
Indian football is on the path of revival through the Indian Super League (ISL) started in 2013 it is organized by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL). The League currently comprises 11 clubs during the league stage of competition each club is placed against all other clubs in around – Robin style. Many promising young players from India trained provisionally and got opportunities through ISL. It has given huge platforms and money to the players. Any sport has to be provided with a professional setup and formidable system for it to develop in the future. Indian Super League is a combination of international players and coaches to revolutionize the football landscape in the country.