India national football team

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Nickname(s) Blue Tigers[1]
Association All India Football Federation
Confederation AFC (Asia)
Sub-confederation SAFF (South Asia)
Head coach Stephen Constantine
Captain Sunil Chhetri[2]
Most caps Sunil Chhetri (97)[3]
Top scorer Sunil Chhetri (56)[4]
Home stadium Various
First colours
Second colours
FIFA ranking
Current 102 Increase 3 (18 January 2018)
Highest 94[5] (February 1996)
Lowest 173[6] (March 2015)
Elo ranking
Current 168 (July 2017)
Highest 48[7] (1964)
Lowest 177[7] (1977, 2013)
First international
 Australia 5–3 India India
(Sydney, Australia; 3 September 1938)
India India 1–2 France 
(London, England; 31 July 1948)
Biggest win
 Australia 1–7 India India
(Sydney, Australia; 12 December 1956)
India India 6–0  Cambodia
(New Delhi, India; 17 August 2007)
Biggest defeat
 Soviet Union 11–1 India India
(Moscow, Soviet Union; 16 September 1955)
Asian Cup
Appearances 3 (first in 1964)
Best result Runners-up: 1964

The India national football team represents India in international football and is controlled by the All India Football Federation. Under the global jurisdiction of FIFA and governed in Asia by the AFC, the team is also part of the South Asian Football Federation. The team, which was once considered one of the best teams in Asia, had its golden era during the 1950s and early 1960s. During this period, under the coaching of Syed Abdul Rahim, India won gold during the 1951 and 1962 Asian Games, while finishing fourth during the 1956 Summer Olympics.

India have never participated in the FIFA World Cup, although the team did qualify by default for the 1950 World Cup after all the other nations in their qualification group withdrew. However, India withdrew prior to the tournament beginning. The team has also appeared three times in the Asia's top football competition, the AFC Asian Cup. Their best result in the continental tournament occurred in 1964 when the team finished as runners-up. India also participate in the SAFF Championship, the top regional football competition in South Asia. They have won the tournament six times since the tournament began in 1993.

Despite India not reaching the same heights since their golden era, the team has seen a steady resurgence since the beginning of the twenty-first century. Besides the SAFF Championship triumphs, under the guidance of Bob Houghton, India won the restarted Nehru Cup in 2007 and 2009 while also managing to emerge victorious during the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup. The Challenge Cup victory allowed India to once again qualify for the Asian Cup for the first time in 27 years.


Early years

Football teams consisting of entirely Indian players started to tour Australia, Japan, Indonesia, and Thailand during the late 1930s.[8] After the success of several Indian football clubs abroad, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) was formed in 1937. The national team played their first match as an independent nation in 1948 in the first round of the 1948 Summer Olympics against France. Using mainly barefooted players, India were defeated 2–1 in London.[8]

Golden years (1950s–1960s)

In 1950, India managed to qualify for the 1950 FIFA World Cup, which was scheduled to take place in Brazil.[9] This was due to all their opponents during qualifying withdrawing from the pre-tournament qualifiers.[9] However, India themselves withdrew from the World Cup before the tournament was to begin. The All India Football Federation gave various reasons for the team's withdrawal, including travel costs, lack of practice time, and valuing the Olympics more than the World Cup.[9]

Despite the reason given out from the AIFF, many historians and pundits believe India withdrew from the World Cup due to FIFA imposing a rule banning players from playing barefoot.[10][11] However, according to the then captain of India, Sailen Manna, the story of the team not being allowed to play due to wanting to play barefoot was not true and was just an excuse to cover up the real reasons the AIFF decided not to travel to Brazil.[9] Since then, India has not come close to qualifying for another World Cup.[12]

Despite not participating in the World Cup in 1950, the following years after, from 1951 to 1964, are usually considered to be the "golden era" of Indian football. India, coached by Hyderabad City Police head coach Syed Abdul Rahim, became one of the best teams in Asia.[13] In March 1951, Rahim lead India to their first ever triumph during the 1951 Asian Games. Hosted in India, the team defeated Iran 1–0 in the gold medal match to gain their first trophy.[14] Sahu Mewalal scored the winning goal for India in that match.[14] The next year India went back to the Olympics but were once again defeated in the first round, this time by Yugoslavia and by a score of 10–1.[15] Upon returning to India, the AIFF made it mandatory for footballers to wear boots.[8] After taking the defeat in Finland, India participated in various minor tournaments, such as the Colombo Cup, which they won three times from 1953 to 1955.[16]

In 1954, India returned to the Asian Games as defending champions in Manila. Despite their achievement three years prior, India were unable to go past the group stage as the team finished second in Group C during the tournament, two points behind Indonesia.[17] Two years later, during the 1956 Summer Olympics, India went on to achieve the team's greatest result in a competitive tournament. The team finished in fourth place during the Summer Olympics football tournament, losing the bronze-medal match to Bulgaria 3–0.[18] The tournament is also known for Neville D'Souza's hat-trick against Australia in the quarterfinals. D'Souza's hat-trick was the first hat-trick scored by an Asian in Olympic history.[18]

After their good performance during the Summer Olympics, India participated in the 1958 Asian Games in Tokyo. The team once again finished fourth, losing the bronze-medal match to Indonesia 4–1.[19] The next year the team traveled to Malaysia where they took part in the Merdeka Cup and finished as the tournament runners-up.[20]

India began the 1960s with 1960 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers. Despite the qualifiers for the West Zone being held in Kochi, India finished last in their qualification group and thus failed to qualify for the tournament.[21] Despite the set-back, India went on to win the gold medal during the Asian Games for the second time in 1962. The team defeated South Korea 2–1 to win their second major championship.[22]

Two years later, following their Asian Games triumph, India participated in the 1964 AFC Asian Cup after all the other teams in their qualification group withdrew. Despite their automatic entry into the continental tournament, India managed to finish as the runners-up during the tournament, losing out to the hosts, Israel, by two points. This remains India's best performance in the AFC Asian Cup.[23]

Decline (1970s–2000)

India returned to the Asian Games in 1966. Despite their performance two years prior during the AFC Asian Cup, India could not go beyond the group stage as the team finished third, behind Japan and Iran.[24] Four years later, during the 1970 Asian Games, India came back and took third place during the tournament. The team defeated Japan 1–0 during the bronze-medal match.[25]

In 1974, India's performance in the Asian Games once again sharply declined as they finished the 1974 edition in last place in their group, losing all three matches, scoring two, and conceding 14 goals in the first round.[26] India then showed steady improvement during the 1978 tournament, finishing second in their group of three. The team were then knocked-out in the next round, finishing last in their group with three defeats from three matches.[27] The 1982 tournament proved to be better for India as the side managed to qualify for the quarter-finals before losing to Saudi Arabia 1–0.[28]

In 1984, India managed to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup for the first time since their second place triumph in 1964. During the 1984 tournament, India finished in last place in their five team group in the first round.[29] India's only non-defeat during the tournament came against Iran, a 0–0 draw.[29]

Despite India's decline from a major football power in Asia, the team still managed to assert its dominance as the top team in South Asia. India managed to win the football competition of the South Asian Games in 1985 and then again won the gold medal in 1987.[30] The team then began the 1990s by winning the inaugural SAFF Championship in 1993.[31] The team ended the 20th century by winning the SAFF Championship again in 1997 and 1999.[31]

Resurgence (2000–2011)

Sunil Chhetri celebrating after scoring during the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup.

India's first competitive matches of the 21st century were the 2002 FIFA World Cup first round qualifiers. Despite a very bright start, defeating the United Arab Emirates 1–0, drawing Yemen 1–1, as well as two victories over Brunei, including a 5–0 victory in Bangalore, India finished a point away from qualification for the next round.[32] In 2003, India took part in the 2003 SAFF Championship. The team qualified for the semi-finals but fell to Bangladesh 2–1.[33]

Later in 2003, India participated in the Afro-Asian Games being held in Hyderabad. Under the coaching of Stephen Constantine, India managed to make it to the final of the tournament after defeating Zimbabwe, a team ranked 85 places above India in the FIFA rankings at the time, 5–3.[34] Despite the major victory, during the gold-medal match India were defeated 1–0 by Uzbekistan U21.[35] Due to this achievement, Constantine was voted as the Asian Football Confederation's Manager of the Month for October 2003. The tournament result also gave India more recognition around the country and around the world.[34]

India celebrating after winning the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup.

Constantine was replaced by Syed Nayeemuddin in 2005 but the Indian head coach only lasted for a little over a year as India suffered many heavy defeats during the 2007 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers.[36] During this time India were defeated 6–0 by Japan, 3–0 by Saudi Arabia and Yemen respectively at home, and 7–1 away in Jeddah.[37] Former Malmö and China coach Bob Houghton was brought in as head coach in May 2006.[38]

Under Houghton, India witnessed massive improvement in their football standing. In August 2007, Houghton won the country the re-started Nehru Cup after India defeated Syria 1–0 in the final.[39] Pappachen Pradeep scored the winning goal for India that match. The next year, Houghton lead India during the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup, which was hosted in Hyderabad and Delhi. During the tournament, India breezed through the group stage before defeating Myanmar in the semi-finals. In the final against Tajikistan, India, through a Sunil Chhetri hat-trick, won the match 4–1. The victory not only earned India the championship but it also allowed India to qualify for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, the nation's first Asian Cup appearance in 27 years.[40] In order to prepare for the Asian Cup, Houghton had the team stay together as a squad for eight months from June 2010 till the start of the tournament, meaning the players would not play for their clubs.[41]

India were drawn into Group C for the Asian Cup with Australia, South Korea, and Bahrain.[42] Despite staying together as a team for eight months, India lost all three of their matches during the Asian Cup, including a 4–0 defeat to Australia.[43] Despite the results, India were still praised by fans and pundits for their valiant efforts during the tournament.[43]


After participating the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, India's quest to qualify for the 2015 edition of the tournament began in February 2011 with AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers. Bob Houghton decided to change the makeup of the India squad, replacing many of the aging players from the Asian Cup with some young players from the AIFF development side in the I-League, Indian Arrows.[44] Even with a young side, India managed to qualify for the AFC Challenge Cup with ease.[45] Despite the good result though with a young side, the AIFF decided to terminate the contract of Bob Houghton.[46]

After having Dempo coach, Armando Colaco, as interim head coach, the AIFF signed Savio Medeira as head coach in October 2011.[47] Despite leading India to another SAFF Championship victory, Medeira lead India to their worst performance in the AFC Challenge Cup in March 2012. The team lost all three of their group matches, unable to score a single goal during the tournament.[48] After the tournament, Medeira was replaced as head coach by Dutchman, Wim Koevermans.[49] Koeverman's first job as head coach was the 2012 Nehru Cup. India won their third successive Nehru Cup, defeating Cameroon's B side on penalties.[50]

In March 2013, India failed to qualify for the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup and thus also failed to qualify for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.[51] The team also failed to retain the SAFF Championship, losing 2–0 to Afghanistan in the 2013 final.[52] After more bad results in friendlies, Koevermans resigned as head coach in October 2014.[53]

By March 2015, after not playing any matches, India reached their lowest FIFA ranking position of 173.[54] A couple months prior, Stephen Constantine was re-hired as the head coach after first leading India more than a decade before.[55] Constantine's first major assignment back as the India head coach were the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. After making it through the first round of qualifiers, India crashed out during the second round, losing seven of their eight matches and thus, once again, failed to qualify for the World Cup.[56]

Despite failure to qualify for the World Cup, India managed to reach the third round of 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers after defeating Laos in the play-off round on aggregate 7–1.[57] On 11 October 2017, India secured qualification for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup after a 4–1 victory over Macau.[58]

Coaching staff

Position Name
Head coach England Stephen Constantine
Assistant coach India Shanmugam Venkatesh
Goalkeeping coach Brazil Rogerio Ramos
Sports Scientist Australia Danny Deigan
AIFF Technical Director India Savio Medeira


Current squad

The following 28 players were called up prior to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Myanmar.[59]

Caps and goals are updated as of 18 November 2017 after the previous match against Myanmar.

0#0 Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1GK Subrata Pal (1986-12-24) 24 December 1986 (age 31) 66 0 India Jamshedpur
1GK Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (1992-02-03) 3 February 1992 (age 25) 20 0 India Bengaluru
1GK Amrinder Singh (1993-05-27) 27 May 1993 (age 24) 1 0 India Mumbai City
1GK Vishal Kaith (1996-07-22) 22 July 1996 (age 21) 0 0 India Pune City

2DF Narayan Das (1993-09-25) 25 September 1993 (age 24) 22 1 India Goa
2DF Pritam Kotal (1993-08-09) 9 August 1993 (age 24) 22 0 India Delhi Dynamos
2DF Sandesh Jhingan (1993-07-21) 21 July 1993 (age 24) 21 4 India Kerala Blasters
2DF Anas Edathodika (1987-02-15) 15 February 1987 (age 30) 9 0 India Jamshedpur
2DF Jerry Lalrinzuala (1998-07-30) 30 July 1998 (age 19) 3 0 India Chennaiyin
2DF Salam Ranjan Singh (1995-12-04) 4 December 1995 (age 22) 1 0 India East Bengal
2DF Lalruatthara (1995-01-07) 7 January 1995 (age 23) 0 0 India Kerala Blasters
2DF Sarthak Golui (1997-11-03) 3 November 1997 (age 20) 0 0 India Mohun Bagan

3MF Eugeneson Lyngdoh (1986-09-10) 10 September 1986 (age 31) 24 0 India ATK
3MF Rowllin Borges (1992-06-05) 5 June 1992 (age 25) 19 2 India NorthEast United
3MF Jackichand Singh (1992-03-17) 17 March 1992 (age 25) 16 2 India Kerala Blasters
3MF Halicharan Narzary (1994-05-10) 10 May 1994 (age 23) 16 0 India NorthEast United
3MF Bikash Jairu (1982-03-12) 12 March 1982 (age 35) 11 0 India Jamshedpur
3MF Mohammed Rafique (1992-09-20) 20 September 1992 (age 25) 9 1 India East Bengal
3MF Pronay Halder (1993-02-25) 25 February 1993 (age 24) 8 0 India Goa
3MF Udanta Singh (1996-06-14) 14 June 1996 (age 21) 8 0 India Bengaluru
3MF Nikhil Poojari (1995-09-03) 3 September 1995 (age 22) 2 0 India East Bengal
3MF Germanpreet Singh (1996-06-24) 24 June 1996 (age 21) 2 0 India Chennaiyin
3MF Anirudh Thapa (1998-01-15) 15 January 1998 (age 20) 2 0 India Chennaiyin

4FW Sunil Chhetri (1984-08-03) 3 August 1984 (age 33) 97 56 India Bengaluru
4FW Jeje Lalpekhlua (1991-01-07) 7 January 1991 (age 27) 46 20 India Chennaiyin
4FW Balwant Singh (1986-12-15) 15 December 1986 (age 31) 5 3 India Mumbai City
4FW Manvir Singh (1995-11-06) 6 November 1995 (age 22) 0 0 India Goa
4FW Alen Deory (1996-01-12) 12 January 1996 (age 22) 0 0 India Shillong Lajong
4FW Hitesh Sharma (1997-12-25) 25 December 1997 (age 20) 0 0 India ATK

Recent call-ups

The following players have also been called up to the India squad within the last twelve months.

Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club Latest call-up
GK Albino Gomes (1994-02-07) 7 February 1994 (age 23) 0 0 India Delhi Dynamos v.  Macau; 5 September 2017
GK Rehenesh TP (1993-02-13) 13 February 1993 (age 24) 0 0 India NorthEast United v.  Saint Kitts and Nevis; 24 August 2017
GK Debjit Majumder (1988-03-06) 6 March 1988 (age 29) 0 0 India ATK v.    Nepal; 6 June 2017

DF Arnab Mondal (1989-09-25) 25 September 1989 (age 28) 27 1 India East Bengal v.  Macau; 11 October 2017
DF Nishu Kumar (1997-01-01) 1 January 1997 (age 21) 0 0 India Bengaluru v.  Macau; 11 October 2017
DF Davinder Singh 0 0 India Mumbai City v.  Saint Kitts and Nevis; 24 August 2017
DF Fulganco Cardozo (1988-01-23) 23 January 1988 (age 29) 2 1 India Chennaiyin v.  Kyrgyzstan; 13 June 2017
DF Chinglensana Singh (1996-11-23) 23 November 1996 (age 21) 0 0 India Goa v.  Kyrgyzstan; 13 June 2017
DF Subashish Bose (1995-08-18) 18 August 1995 (age 22) 0 0 India Bengaluru v.    Nepal; 6 June 2017

MF Dhanpal Ganesh (1994-06-13) 13 June 1994 (age 23) 6 0 India Chennaiyin v.  Saint Kitts and Nevis; 24 August 2017
MF Seityasen Singh (1992-03-12) 12 March 1992 (age 25) 5 0 India Delhi Dynamos v.  Saint Kitts and Nevis; 24 August 2017
MF Milan Singh (1992-05-15) 15 May 1992 (age 25) 3 0 India Kerala Blasters v.  Saint Kitts and Nevis; 24 August 2017
MF Cavin Lobo (1988-04-04) 4 April 1988 (age 29) 8 0 India East Bengal v.  Kyrgyzstan; 13 June 2017
MF Laldanmawia Ralte (1992-12-19) 19 December 1992 (age 25) 0 0 India Bengaluru v.  Kyrgyzstan; 13 June 2017
MF Isaac Vanlalsawma (1996-09-15) 15 September 1996 (age 21) 0 0 India Pune City v.  Kyrgyzstan; 13 June 2017
MF Anthony D'Souza (1987-03-02) 2 March 1987 (age 30) 0 0 India Goa v.  Cambodia; 22 March 2017

FW C.K. Vineeth (1988-02-28) 28 February 1988 (age 29) 7 0 India Kerala Blasters v.  Macau; 11 October 2017
FW Robin Singh (1990-05-09) 9 May 1990 (age 27) 30 5 India ATK v.  Macau; 5 September 2017
FW Sumeet Passi (1995-04-18) 18 April 1995 (age 22) 3 1 India Jamshedpur v.  Saint Kitts and Nevis; 24 August 2017
FW Daniel Lalhlimpuia (1997-09-12) 12 September 1997 (age 20) 3 0 India Bengaluru v.  Kyrgyzstan; 13 June 2017

Past squads

Results and schedule

For all past match results of the national team, see the team's results page.



Competitive records

FIFA World Cup

India has never participated in a FIFA World Cup.[60] After gaining independence in 1947, India managed to qualify for the World Cup held in 1950. This was due to Myanmar, Indonesia, and the Philippines withdrawing from qualification.[60] However, prior to the start of the tournament, India themselves withdrew due to the expenses required in getting the team to Brazil.[60] Other reasons cited for why India withdrew include FIFA not allowing Indian players to play in the tournament barefoot and the All India Football Federation not considering the World Cup an important tournament compared to the Olympics.[60]

After withdrawing from the 1950 FIFA World Cup, India didn't enter the qualifying rounds of the tournament between 1954 and 1982.[61] Since the 1986 qualifiers, with the exception of the 1990 edition of the tournament, the team started to participate in qualifiers but have yet to qualify for the tournament again.[61]

FIFA World Cup record FIFA World Cup Qualification record
Year Round Position Pld W D L GF GA Pld W D L GF GA
Uruguay 1930 Did not enter Did not enter
Italy 1934
France 1938
Brazil 1950 Qualified but withdrew None
Switzerland 1954 Denied by FIFA None
Sweden 1958 Did not enter Did not enter
Chile 1962
England 1966
Mexico 1970
West Germany 1974
Argentina 1978
Spain 1982
Mexico 1986 Did not qualify 6 2 3 1 7 6
Italy 1990 Withdrew from qualification
United States 1994 8 1 1 6 8 22
France 1998 3 1 1 1 3 7
South Korea Japan 2002 6 3 2 1 11 5
Germany 2006 6 1 1 4 2 18
South Africa 2010 2 0 1 1 3 6
Brazil 2014 2 0 1 1 2 5
Russia 2018 10 2 1 7 7 18
Total 0/20 0 0 0 0 0 0 43 10 11 22 43 86

AFC Asian Cup

India have qualified for the AFC Asian Cup three times. The team played their first Asian Cup in 1964. During this tournament India finished as the runners-up, their best major tournament performance yet.[62] Since then India has failed to progress beyond the first round of the Asian Cup with their most recent participation being the 2011 Asian Cup.

Year Round Matches Wins Draws Losses GF GA
Hong Kong 1956 Did not enter
South Korea 1960 Did not qualify
Israel 1964 Runners-up 3 2 0 1 5 3
Iran 1968 Did not qualify
Thailand 1972
Iran 1976
Kuwait 1980
Singapore 1984 Round 1 4 0 1 3 0 7
Qatar 1988 Did not qualify
Japan 1992
United Arab Emirates 1996
Lebanon 2000
China 2004
Indonesia Malaysia Thailand Vietnam 2007
Qatar 2011 Round 1 3 0 0 3 3 13
Australia 2015 Did not qualify
United Arab Emirates 2019 Qualified
Totals 3/16 10 2 1 7 8 23

Summer Olympics

Summer Olympics record
Year Result Position Pld W T L GF GA
19081936 Did not enter
United Kingdom 1948 Round 1 11th 1 0 0 1 1 2
Finland 1952 Preliminaries 1 0 0 1 1 10
Australia 1956 Semi-finals 4th 3 1 0 2 5 9
Italy 1960 Round 1 13th 3 0 1 2 3 6
19641988 Did not qualify
1992 – present See India national under-23 team
Total Semi-finals 4 / 17 8 1 1 6 10 27

Other honours

Head coaches

Since independence, there have been eighteen different head coaches for the India national team, with ten of them being foreign coaches. The most successful head coach for India was Syed Abdul Rahim, who lead India to gold in both the 1951 and 1962 Asian Games while also achieving a fourth-place finish during the 1956 Summer Olympics.[63] The most successful foreign head coach for India was Bob Houghton, who coached the side from 2006 to 2011.[64] With Houghton in charge, India won the Nehru Cup twice and the AFC Challenge Cup in 2008 which allowed India to participate in their first AFC Asian Cup for 27 years.[64]

List of head coaches of India

See also


  1. ^ From 1964 to 1972, India had many managers but many of them were never recorded.


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External links

  • All India Football Federation
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