Indian football team at the Asian Games: 1974 Tehran
Sportskeeda continues this series by looking back at India’s performance in the 1974 edition.
Goalkeepers: S.C. Sudhir (Maharashtra), Prasanta Mitra (Bengal).
Defenders: Nicholas Pereira (Goa), Shyamal Ghosh (East Bengal Club), Kajal Dhali (East Bengal Club), Prabir Majumdar (Bengal), Pradeep Chowdhury (Maharashtra), Gurdev Singh (Punjab Police), Dilip Palit (Railways).
Midfielders: Shyam Sunder Manna (Bengal), Doraiswami Natraj (Mysore), Gautam Sarkar (Bengal), Prasun Banerjee (Bengal).
Forwards: Surajit Sengupta (East Bengal Club), Subhas Bhowmick (East Bengal Club), Mohammed Habib (East Bengal Club), Shyam Thapa (Maharashtra), Magan Singh (Rajasthan Armed Constabulary, Bikaner - CAPTAIN).
Coach: PK Banerjee (Bengal); Assistant Coach: GMH Basha (Mysore); Manager: T.O. Abdullah (Kerala).
Despite the bronze medal success in 1970, India never really built on that performance and instead started to decline. They didn’t even take part in the 1972 Asian Cup qualifiers and their results had dipped even in the Merdeka Cup. So India were not among the favourites for the 1974 Asian Games but still possessed plenty of talent especially in attack with the heroes from the 1970 edition like Bhowmick, Habib, Thapa and Magan Singh still in the team.
16 countries participated in this edition with four groups of four teams and the top two from each group progressed to the quarter-final stage. India were handed a tough draw as they were up against Iraq, China and North Korea. India started their campaign against Iraq and were well beaten as they went down 3-0.
Two days later India faced the challenge of China and suffered an embarrassing 7-1 defeat. It was slightly better against North Korea but another heavy loss as the Koreans won 4-1. It was India’s worst-ever display in the Asian Games as they conceded 14 in three matches and for the first time had a 100% losing record. Only Magan Singh returned home with some pride as he scored against both China and North Korea.
Novy Kapadia’s Insight
This was the beginning of the end for Indian football. The AIFF prepared well with long training camps but called too many players, 83 in all.
Coaches PK Banerjee and GMH Basha spent most of the time weeding out players. The best goalkeeper in India, Tarun Bose, defender Sudhir Karmakar and forward Inder Singh did not report for the camp as it was too long and thus were not picked. Even some other senior players reported late for the camp.
The team was imbalanced and defence lacked speed. India was also in a very strong group with Iraq, China and North Korea and conceded 14 goals and scored just twice. The biggest blunder was against China. Coach PK Banerjee asked AIFF President K. Ziauddin to watch China’s game. A non-technical man Ziauddin said China was an average team.
However India could not cope with the speed and one touch game of China and lost 1-7 with Habib also missing a penalty kick. The Indian team lacked rhythm and harmony and after the 1974 Asian Games has never been considered a continental powerhouse.
September 2 1974: India 0-3 Iraq
September 4 1974: India 1-7 China
Indian scorer: Magan Singh
September 6 1974: India 1-4 North Korea
Indian scorer: Magan Singh
Final position: Eliminated at first round group stage