Reflecting on Past Performances: How Indian football teams have performed at Asian Games
As the Indian football teams gear up for the Asian Games, let's delve into their journey over the years at the prestigious multi-sport event.
The stage is set for an exhilarating competition as the draw for the men's and women's football teams for the 2022 Asian Games is out on Thursday. The prestigious multisport event, which takes place once every four years, will see 32 teams battling it out in the men's football event, while 16 nations will be competing for the honour in the women's football event. The football events are scheduled to kick off on September 19, ahead of the official kick-off of the Games, scheduled on September 23, and will conclude on October 7 in Hangzhou, China.
Let's take a look at how the women's and men's teams performed in the Asian Games in the past.
Women’s Football Team at the Asian Games
The Indian women's football team made its debut at the Asian Games in 1998, where they faced tough opposition and finished eighth in the tournament. India conceded a total of 36 goals from three games, and only managed to score one. Thongam Tababi Devi scored the solitary goal against Chinese Taipei.
After a 16-year gap, India returned to the competition in 2014, securing a victory against the Maldives but facing defeats against South Korea and Thailand. They finished ninth out of 11 teams in the event.
Men's Football Team at the Asian Games
During the early years of the Asian Games, India established itself as a prominent force to reckon with in football within the continent. This reputation was earned after the team participated in the 1948 Olympics, where it narrowly lost to France after Sailen Manna and Mahabir Prasad missed penalties. Sarangapani Raman scored the lone goal for India. In the inaugural edition of the Asian Games held in New Delhi in 1951, India demonstrated its prowess by clinching the gold medal in a six-team event. India defeated Iran in the final.
However, the subsequent editions in 1954 and 1958 saw a decline in India's performance, as it failed to secure any medals, finishing eighth and fourth in the Games held in the Philippines and Japan, respectively.
The Indian team made a strong comeback in 1962, with an impressive showing that included only one loss in the tournament, against South Korea in the group stage. Nevertheless, they avenged this defeat by defeating the Koreans 2-1 in the gold medal match. The team, coached by legendary Syed Abdul Rahim, featured iconic players such as PK Banerjee, Tulsidas Balaram and Chuni Goswami, who formed the holy trident of Indian football.
In the 1970 Asian Games, India managed to secure a bronze medal by defeating a formidable Japanese team in the third-place playoff. However, this marked the last time India won a medal in football at the Asian Games.
Unfortunately, after 1970, the Indian football team's performance took a downturn. It struggled in the subsequent editions, failing to progress past the group stages and finishing poorly in the rankings.
The period between 1990 and 1994 saw India not participating in the Asian Games, which was a significant departure from the early years when it was dominant.
In the 1998 Asian Games, India returned to the competition but had a challenging time, winning only one game and finishing 16th out of 23 teams.
In 2002, India displayed better form, winning two games in the group stage but narrowly missed out on progressing to the quarterfinals due to the competition format.
The 2010 Asian Games saw India finishing third in their group and qualifying for the knockouts, but it was defeated in the pre-quarters by Japan, the eventual gold-medal winner.
In 2014, India's performance hit a low point as it was eliminated in the group stage, finishing 26th out of 29 teams.
India had its fair share of glory at the Asian Games as it is a two-time winner and the third-most successful team in the competition's history.