Indian football team at the Asian Games: 1966 Bangkok
Sportskeeda continues this series by looking back at India’s performance in the 1966 edition.
Goalkeepers: Peter Thangaraj (East Bengal Club), C. Mustafa (Mohammedan Sporting Club).
Defenders: Jarnail Singh (Mohun Bagan AC - CAPTAIN), Chandreshwar Prasad (Bengal), Syed Nayeemuddin (Bengal), Altaf Ahmed (East Bengal Club), Arun Ghosh (Bengal).
Midfielders: Ajoy Kajal Mukherjee (Bengal), Prasanta Sinha (Bengal), Yousuf Khan (Andhra Pradesh), Krishnaji Rao (Mysore).
Forwards: Ashok Chatterjee (Bengal), P.K. Banerjee (Railways), Parimal Dey (East Bengal Club), P.X. Kannan (Bengal), Arumai Nayagam (Mohun Bagan AC), Inder Singh (Leaders Club, Punjab).
Coach: Mohammed Hussain (Maharashtra); Manager: K. Ziauddin (Maharashtra).
India had shown consistency even after the gold medal success at the 1962 edition as they always finished in the top three in three editions of the Merdeka Cup and were also runners-up in the 1964 Asian Cup. But by the time they were to play in the 1966 Asian Games, there were some retirements like that of Chuni Goswami and Tulsidas Balaram. So coming into the Bangkok Games, India were not among the frontrunners.
They were also handed a tough group alongside Japan, Iran and Malaysia. There were 11 participants with two groups having four teams while one group had three. The top two progressed to the quarter-final group stage but India failed to do so as they finished third with one win and two defeats.
India started the campaign with a 2-1 defeat against Japan but bounced back with a 2-1 victory over Malaysia thanks to goals from Inder Singh and Jarnail Singh. A win was needed against Iran to progress to the next round but India were beaten 4-1 as they got eliminated from the first round for the second time in Asian Games history.
Novy Kapadia’s Insight
The sudden retirement of Chuni Goswami and Balaram was a blow from which the Indian forward line never recovered. Both retired at the peak of their careers. Chuni did it for personal reasons and Balaram was wrongly diagnosed to have tuberculosis. Inder Singh as inside forward/striker in the 4-2-4 formation was quick and agile and scored in the 2-1 win over Malaysia. However both wingers Arumainayagam and PK Banerjee gave him little support.
Other stars of the 1962 Asian Games like defender Jarnail singh and right winger P.K. Banerjee had slowed down due to age and injury problems. The midfielders - Krishnaji Rao and Prasanta Sinha – were good but slow and lacked the speed and dynamism of Franco and Yusuf Khan of the 1962 Asian Games. Overall it was an imbalanced team and goalkeeper Peter Thangaraj was out of form. He was rightly replaced by the quick and agile C. Mustafa in the last two league matches.
Also the team was not well prepared. The AIFF had no exposure trips for the national team. There were just two camps in Hyderabad and Bombay. GM Pentiah was the coach in Hyderabad and Hussain in Bombay. The AIFF had not found a suitable successor to Syed Abdul Rahim and finally Hussain was chosen as national coach.
India were unlucky to be in a tough group with Japan, which had the nucleus of the team that won an Olympic bronze medal in 1968 and mighty Iran. If India had been in any of the other two groups, they would have easily qualified for the quarter-finals.
Dec 10 1966: India 1-2 Japan
Indian scorer: PK Banerjee
December 12 1966: India 2-1 Malaysia
Indian scorers: Inder Singh, Jarnail Singh (pen)
December 14 1966: India 1-4 Iran
Indian scorer: Jarnail Singh
Final position: Eliminated from first round group stage