India played their first ever international match as an Independent nation on July 31, 1948.
The Indian national football team participated in the Olympics 1948, which was also their first appearance in the Olympics. India made a lot of headlines and their performance was talked about for months after the Olympics finished, even when India lost the only game they played.
The 1948 Summer Olympics were held in London in England. Indian football team participated in the tournament for the first time as an independent nation. But that was not the reason for the team making headlines.
Indian team were to take on European heavyweights France in the first round. But as they entered the field, every heads turned in shock. Indian football team entered the field barefoot, and the players played out the whole game without boots. And yet, the Indian team put on an impressive display against France, as the European side resorted to a late goal to win the match 2-1.
Also read: Indian football – What went wrong?
Sarangapani Raman became the first Indian football to score for the national team, as he struck the net in the 70th minute of the match to give India the equaliser.
The time between 1948-1962 is also called the ‘Golden Generation’ of Indian football. Indian national team won two Asian Games medals, proving their mettle among the Asian teams. However, the team lost a great opportunity in featuring in the 1950 FIFA World Cup due to alleged miscommunication within the AIFF over team selection.
Indian football has only went downhill since the 1962 Asian Games. India fell to their all-time low at 171st position in 2014, but the team has seen an upward shift ever since. The team has qualified for the AFC Asian Cup 2019, scheduled to be held in United Arab Emirates. The Indian football team has also broken into the top-100 in the rankings, and are currently at 97th position.