Indian football team at the Asian Games: 1982 New Delhi
Sportskeeda continues this series by looking back at India’s performance in the 1982 edition.
Goalkeepers: Bhaskar Ganguly (East Bengal Club - CAPTAIN), Bramanand Shankwalkar (Salgaocar SC).
Defenders: Compton Dutta (Bengal), Manoranjan Bhattacharya (East Bengal Club), Sudip Chatterjee (Mohun Bagan AC), Alok Mukherjee (East Bengal Club), G.S. Parmar (Punjab), Aslam Khan (Karnataka).
Midfielders: Prasun Banerjee (Bengal), Prasanta Banerjee (Bengal), Fareed (Bengal), Parminder Singh (Punjab), Harjinder Singh (JCT Mills).
Forwards: Bidesh Bose (Bengal), Shabbir Ali (Bengal), Biswajit Bhattacharya (Bengal), Kartick Seth (East Bengal Club), C.B. Thapa (Services).
Coach: PK Banerjee (Bengal); Assistant Coach: Arun Ghosh (Bengal); Manager: Magan Singh Tanwar (Rajasthan).
With New Delhi being the hosts again, the AIFF started the preparations for the 1982 Asian Games by giving international exposure to the India team towards the end of 1980. However a huge club against country dispute overshadowed India’s preparations as players of the Calcutta clubs refused to train with the national team as they preferred playing for their club where they had lucrative contracts. Eventually that issue was resolved and India were drawn in the same group as Bangladesh, Malaysia and China.
16 teams participated with the top two from each of the four groups of four progressing to the quarters. India were confident of reaching the last eight and started with a 2-0 victory over Bangladesh thanks to a brace from star midfielder Prasun Banerjee. In the next match they were up against Malaysia and India managed to record a narrow 1-0 victory with Kartick Seth netting the winner.
India only needed a draw against China in the final group game to progress as group winners. They trailed at half-time but goals from Shabbir Ali and Seth set looked to have given them a third straight victory. However India conceded a late equaliser as the match ended 2-2. Saudi Arabia were the opponents in the quarter-finals and once again a late goal proved to be costly as India conceded in the last minute to lose 1-0. This was the last time that India reached the quarters of the Asian Games.
Novy Kapadia’s Insight
The AIFF chalked out an ambitious plan for the 1982 Asian Games with long camps for the national probables which started in late 1980 and international exposure in tournaments like Merdeka, Kings Cup and Pyongyang Presidents Cup. However the AIFF lacked the foresight to realise that if the players did not represent their clubs they would lose financially.
This was true of Kolkata football and it set a trend of club before country, which led to a major controversy prior to the tournament. On 19 February 1981, just before the transfer season in Bengal, 21 players, 19 from Bengal and one each from Kerala and Andhra Pradesh walked out of the national camp in defiance of their parent body. Their loyalty lay with the lucrative club offers rather than the national team.
Though labelled as ‘rebels’ and ‘deserters’ and condemned by prime minister Mrs Indira Gandhi and West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu, the players remained defiant. The pragmatic Field Marshal Maneckshaw, president of the defunct All India Council of Sports, negotiated a compromise. He compelled the AIFF to compensate all players on national duty with Rs. 2000 per month. The players re-joined the national camp after two months.
Unimaginative handling of this situation by the AIFF led to a crisis. Confidence levels between payers and coaching staff declined. Also AIFF hired too many coaches. PK Banerjee was the chief coach but GDR foreign expert Dietmar Pfieffer was chosen as technical director. There were also Arun Ghosh, GMH Basha, SS Hakeem and Ahmed Hussain. Gradually PK called the shots but there were conflicting areas of interest.
The team for the 1982 Asiad was balanced. Midfield was India’s forte, with the skilful Prasun and Prasanta Banerjee and dynamic Parminder Singh, who was renowned for his work rate and powerful shots. However the forward line was weak with injuries and sickness forcing Xavier Pius and speedy CB Thapa to withdraw. Only Shabbir Ali was consistent upfront.
The 2-2 draw with China was India’s best performance and they were unlucky to lose by a last-minute goal against Saudi Arabia in the quarters. If India had reached the semi-finals they would have automatically got a bronze medal as North Korea were disqualified after losing the other semi-final to Kuwait as they indulged in violence.
November 20 1982: India 2-0 Bangladesh
Indian scorer: Prasun Banerjee (brace)
November 22 1982: India 1-0 Malaysia
Indian scorer: Kartick Seth
November 24 1982: India 2-2 China
Indian scorers: Kartick Seth, Shabbir Ali
November 27 1982: India 0-1 Saudi Arabia
Final position: Quarter-finalists