Staff, 2022-12-21 07:34:00,
While images of Indian soccer fans, notably in Kerala and Bengal dancing and celebrating the world’s single biggest sports fiesta 2,885 km away in Qatar have grabbed eyeballs, generating more than a bit of gallows’ humour, the irony of the situation should not be lost.
With a bit of luck — and foresight — not to mention administrative and political wisdom, India could well have been a participant in World Cup soccer rather than being mere cheerleaders, however noisy, devoted and well-informed.
If by the early 1960s, India had kept its concentration focused on football instead of moving lock, stock and barrel to cricket, played by no more than a clutch of former British colonies, it would have been a different story. In fact, it would have been a much more celebrated story than the one involving cricket, which more than half of the world knows nothing about.
The period from 1951 to 1962, under the tutelage of Syed Abdul Rahim, is considered the golden era in Indian football, when it became one of the best Asian teams.
The 1950s began well. As hosts, India won the 1951 Asian Games, beating Indonesia and Afghanistan 3–0 to reach the final where they got the better of Iran by 1–0. Iran was a participant in the World Cup 2022.
In 1952, India continued their form by winning the Colombo Quadrangular Cup held in Sri Lanka. She won three further editions of the Quadrangular Cup, which were held in Burma, Calcutta and Dhaka in 1953, 1954…
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