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No. 15: India win 1962 Asiad football gold

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The story till then

India picked up the football gold when they hosted the first Asian Games at home in 1951, beating Iran in the final. They missed out in subsequent editions of the games in Manila and Tokyo. By the time the 1962 games in Jakarta began, Indian football's profile had risen considerably under coach Syed Abdul Rahim; the semi-final finish at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne was the highlight.

The moment
India began their group engagements with a 2-0 defeat to South Korea, but then comprehensively beat Thailand and Japan to set up a semi-final against South Vietnam. After winning 3-2, they came up against the Koreans again in the final, but this time they also had to deal with a hostile crowd, angered by some comments attributed to the Indian chef de mission. Rahim played centre-back Jarnail Singh as a striker since he had injured his forehead and required stitches. Jarnail responded by scoring one of the goals in a 2-1 win.

The reaction
"I was a lucky captain that I had such brilliant players with me. Of course, I contributed a bit myself, having scored two goals to bring us into the finals."
- Chuni Goswami, India captain

Expert view
"This remains one of the greatest achievements of Indian football because of the difficult circumstances in which it was achieved. In the final against South Korea, the capacity crowd booed India and did not even pay respect to India's national anthem. When the ball came in India's half, such was the din that the referee's whistle was not audible."
- Novy Kapadia, journalist and historian

The story since
Rahim, often considered one of the greatest international coaches of his generation, was suffering from cancer and passed away soon after, in 1963. India's next continental triumph was a runners-up position at the 1964 Asian Cup, and their next best was a bronze at the 1970 Asian Games. In many respects, Jakarta was the last significant success for the Indian team.

Recommended reading
Stories from Indian Football by Jaydeep Basu