Indian football team at the Asian Games: 1951 New Delhi
Less than a month remains until the start of the football tournament at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. India are actually the joint-third most successful nation in the history of the competition although they haven’t reached the quarters since 1982. To build-up for the tournament, Sportskeeda will look back on the Indian football team’s performance in every edition of the Asian Games with interesting insights from football commentator, historian, expert and author Novy Kapadia.
We kick-off the series on our 68th Independence Day by reviewing our performance in the inaugural edition of 1951, which was held in New Delhi.
Goalkeepers: B. Anthony (Bengal), K.L. Varadaraj (Mysore).
Backs: Sailendra Nath Manna (Mohun Bagan AC - CAPTAIN), Syed Khwaja Azizuddin (Hyderabad City Police), T.M. Varghese [alias Papen] (Bombay), Sunil Chatterjee (Bengal).
Half Backs: Abdul Latif (Mohammedan Sporting Club), Noor Mohammed (Hyderabad City Police), Chandan Singh Rawat (Services), Abhoy Ghosh (Bengal), D.N. Jones (Services), T. Shanmugham (Mysore).
Forwards: Pansanttom Venkatesh (East Bengal Club), G.Y.S. Laiq (Hyderabad City Police), M.A. Sattar (Bengal), P.B.A. Saleh (Bengal), Runu Guha Thakurta (Bengal), Sahu Mewalal (Bengal), Santosh Nandy (Bengal), M. Ahmed Khan (Bengal), Loganathan (Madras), A.M. Bachan (Orissa).
Coach: Syed Abdul Rahim (Hyderabad); Manager: Kartick Chandra Mukherjee (Bengal).
Note: Squad information courtesy indianfootball.de
This was the inaugural edition of the Asian Games with New Delhi being the host city. Six nations participated with all matches being played at New Delhi’s National Stadium and each game was of 60 minutes duration. The draw saw Japan and Afghanistan get byes to the semi-finals but India had to face Indonesia for a place in the last four.
India comfortably won the game 3-0 thanks to a brace from Sahu Mewalal with Pansanttom Venkatesh netting the other. Having played in the 1948 Olympics in London, where they impressed in their narrow 2-1 defeat to France, India were the favourites to beat Afghanistan also in the semi-final. They lived up to those expectations, running out 3-0 winners with Mewalal and Venkatesh once again among the scorers.
India’s final opponents were Iran and it was a gruelling schedule for both nations as they were playing their third game in five days. It was a tight contest but Sahu Mewalal’s 34th minute strike was enough to see India clinch the gold medal on home soil without conceding a single goal in the tournament.
Novy Kapadia’s Insight
Short, swift and agile Mewalal had scored the match winner against Iran with an electrifying volley. However he nearly missed the final. A day before the final he received a telegram about a family bereavement and wanted to rush back to Calcutta.
Coach Syed Abdul Rahim tried persuading him to stay. Mewalal relented after the intervention of India’s Prime Minister, Shri Jawaharlal Nehru. The sports loving Nehru, a fan of Mewalal, ensured that an Indian Air Force plane was on the tarmac, at the Safdarjung airport waiting to take off. Mewalal was whisked off after the medal ceremony and flew to join his bereaved family that same evening. He finished the competition with four goals and is one of three Indians to have scored that many in a single edition of the Asian Games.
March 5 1951: India 3-0 Indonesia
Indian scorers: Sahu Mewalal 27’, 42’, Pansanttom Venkatesh 44’
March 7 1951: India 3-0 Afghanistan
Indian scorers: Pansanttom Venkatesh 10’, Sahu Mewalal 16’, Santosh Nandy 55’
March 10 1951: India 1-0 Iran
Indian scorer: Sahu Mewalal 34’
Final position: Gold medal