For long, most people around the world have underestimated the power of Indian Football. However, through the decades, the Indian team has had myriad achievements which every Indian football fan should be proud of.
Here are five Indian Football Facts that are a reminder of the glorious accomplishments of the Blue Tigers:
Sunil Chhetri has more goals than Lionel Messi
Yes, that is true. Indian captain Sunil Chhetri, at this point of time, has more goals than none other than Lionel Messi. Sunil Chhetri has 50 goals to his name in International fixtures whereas the Argentinian great Messi is slightly short with 44 goals.
India’s Golden era
If you go down the memory lane, it was in 1950 when India managed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup and as the rumour goes, India was declined participation due to lack of football shoes (that is still a myth). But it was also the financial situation of the country that forced the Blue Tigers to withdraw from the world event.
It was the next 13 years that India had its golden age in football under coach Syed Abdul Rahim who managed India for 42 games in that period and recorded a win percentage of almost 62%. The team managed by Rahim was placed in the Top-20s too in that period and thus can be regarded as the most successful coach for the Indian team.
India has managed a top-3 finish at SAFF Championship since its inception
SAFF Championship was introduced with only four teams in the year 1993 and India was the champion at the inaugural event. Since then whenever the SAFF Championship was played, India was always amongst the top 3, lifting the winner’s trophy six times out of a possible ten.
India’s worst performance in the Championship came in the year 2003 when the event was held in Bangladesh. The Blue Tigers grabbed the third place (that was the only year India was out of the top two).
India has a decent record in Asia
India made its first appearance in the Asian Cup in 1964 and also ended with its best record in the tournament as runners-up. In the South Asian Games, India are three time gold medalists – in 1985, 1987 and 1995.
India’s golden era also included two winners trophy in the Asian Games in 1951 and 1962 under the legendary manager Syed Abdul Rahim.
India ranked 9th in FIFA rankings
That absolutely sounds like a joke, doesn’t it? But, it is not a joke. India did rank 9th in the World in February 1957.
Two years from now, India is set to host the U-17 FIFA World Cup and it is the support of the home fans that will be needed for India to succeed. Hope to see you on board cheering for the “Blue Tigers”