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World Cup 2018: The history of Indian football team in FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

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1986 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

1986 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers
Sudip Chatterjee (right) led India at the 1986 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

In the 1954 World Cup qualifiers, FIFA didn't accept India's entry. And from 1958 to 1982, India didn't enter their names in the World Cup qualifiers. So, it wasn't until 21 March 1985 that India had played its first official FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.

The Asian zone was only allocated 2 places in the final tournament. The 27 participating teams would be divided into 2 zones and there would be three rounds of qualifiers. 

In the first round, the teams were divided into 4 groups of 3 or 4 teams each. The teams would play against each other on a home-and-away basis with the group winners advancing to the second round.

India was grouped alongside Indonesia, Thailand, and Bangladesh. The Blue Tigers opened their campaign with a 2-1 loss to Indonesia away. They would go on to hold Thailand 0-0 and defeat Bangladesh 1-2 in their subsequent away matches. In the home fixtures, India was held 1-1 by Indonesia and Thailand and defeated Bangladesh 2-1 at the Salt Lake Stadium in Calcutta.

In those days, 2 points were given to the winner and 1 point if the game finished in a draw. As a result, Indonesia finished at the top spot with 9 points and India second with 7 points. That was how far the Blue Tigers could go.

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Edited by Amar Anand

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