Every football fan of India knows that this headline is only a long lasting dream that has come true. For a nation, that believes cricket to be the torch bearer of all sports for the last 3 decades, is finally finding its magic in the most beautiful game in the world. Perhaps, the FIFA World Cup 2026 is going to witness history as India will make her second appearance in the world cup. With both the U16 and U20 teams of India were on fire this weekend, the future of Indian football is in safe hands.
August 5th, 2018 will always go down in the history of Indian football as one of the most remarkable dates for India roared to glory over the La Albiceleste in Spain in the COTIF cup 2018 even with one man down in the 50th minute. Earlier that day India U16 team defeated the reigning Asian champions Iraq by a score of 1-0. Both these historical wins tried to put a smile on the face of 1.3 billion populations who were grief stricken because India lost the sure shot test match to England in Edgbaston, Birmingham in the five test match series the previous day.
Golden history of Indian football:
The former national sports of India had given its share of glories to the country. India also holds the world’s third oldest competition, the Durand Cup which saw the light of the day in 1888 by then India’s foreign secretary Mortimer Durand in Shimla, India. However, the golden era of football arrived in the year 1951 holding the hands of late Syed Abdul Rahim as the coach, India became the best football team in Asia. Indian football team went on winning the 1951 Asian Games which they hosted. India even won the Quadrangular Cup four times in the year 1951, 1953, 1954 and 1955. India also booked the 4th place in the 1956 Olympics games. India also finished 4th in the 1958 Asian Games and also finished 2nd in the Merdeka Cup in 1959. Then India won the 1962 Asian Games and also finished 2nd, 3rd and 3rd in the Merdeka Cup in 1964, 1965 and 1966 respectively.
From there to have never making it past first round of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers until 2018, the Indian government has only themselves to blame.
Anyway, the heroics of these young men in blue were not unnoticed. Former Indian medalist Rajyavardhan Rathore took to Twitter, the glory of the The Blue Tigers as they made history against Argentina.
WELL DONE @IndianFootball U-20 team!
— Rajyavardhan Rathore (@Ra_THORe) August 6, 2018
Indian cricket stars like Ravindra Jadeja and Harbhajan Singh also expressed their joy for the win.
— Sir Ravindra Jadeja (@SirJadejaaaa) August 6, 2018
Indian football is showing the world what we're made up of! I'm extremely happy to know that India beat Argentina 2-1 in the U20 league, and India also beat Iraq 1-0 in the U16 league! Congratulations @IndianFootball pic.twitter.com/Eg7rX9mUWq
— Harbhajan Turbanator (@harbhajan_singh) August 6, 2018
Even the Indian Prime Minister, shared his best wishes to the Indian football team.
Congrats Indian Football Team
When the whole Nation was Sleeping !
Sleeping Giant of Football was waking up from the deep sleep.🇮🇳 #INDvARG
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi177) August 6, 2018
India U20 vs Argentina U20 brief match report:
The game against Argentina U20 was not an easy one for the Blue Colts as Argentina U20 is most successful team, winning U20 world cup for a record six times and when the match opened, it was expected that the world champions will soon take control of the match but that changed just after 4 minutes on the pitch. India opened the scoring from a corner when a curled ball by Deepak Tangri from the corner spot became too much for the Argentina goalie Leonardo Diaz, who misread its direction and flapped it behind the goal line. The spectators went on a pin drop silence as no one could have imagined that India, who was once disqualified from the FIFA World Cup 1950 for not being able to play football in spikes. The first half ended with the Blues has their one foot in the lead.
The second half saw the early sending of Ankit Jadhav in the 50th minute and everyone felt, that this might turn things around for Lionel Messi’s country but a brilliant free kick goal from Anwar Ali in the 68th minute from outside the Argentina penalty box, which had Cristiano Ronaldo written all over on it as it ended in the back of the net. The score board read, India 2-0 Argentina. The whole stadium applauded because the second goal gave a glimpse of the talent India possess when it comes to football, which just need some nurturing and infrastructure.
Who would have ever imagined that the 10 men Indian team would have no impact of the extra man in the entire game? The second goal decided the match but the world champions weren’t to be suppressed like that. They pounced back within four minutes of the second Indian goal and found their consolation through Alan Marinelli, who finished it off in style. The time was upon the world champions, but sometimes it is too late to change things around. When the final whistle was blown, The Blue Tigers had achieved a feat that was never imagined in the past 50 years.
Here’s the link to the highlights, courtesy of Indian Football – The Blue Tigers.
This India U20 starting XI boasts lots of hopes and dreams for the future and here they are: Aniket Jadhav, Ninthoinanba Meetei, Amarjit Singh Kiyam (C), Deepak Tangri, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Boris Singh Thangjam, Sahil Panwar, Anwar Ali, Jitendra Singh, Asish Rai and Prabhsukhan Gill (GK).
Coach: Floyd Pinto