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AFC Asian Cup 2019: A Sneak-Peek of Indian Football Team’s Journey at the Tournament

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There is plenty of hope and expectations riding on India’s campaign at the 2019 AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Asian Cup. The hope graph just surmounted after India’s historic win against Thailand since 1964 in the Asian Cup.

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Among the 24 teams in the fray in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), India is making their fourth-ever appearance in the continental competition. Runners-up to Israel in the 1964 edition, India has suffered group-stage exits in their subsequent two editions in 1984 and 2011 and finished runners-up in 1964.

Making the knockouts of the tournament this time around will not be easy for Stephen Constantine’s boys. Though, it still looks tough with India drawn alongside hosts UAE, Thailand and Bahrain in Group A.

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India, taking part in their fourth Asian Cup and first since 2011, have come into the continental showpiece after creditable draws against China and Oman in the lead-up to the tournament. They lost narrowly (1-2) to Jordan in their third big match ahead of the Asian Cup.

The 1964 edition of the tournament saw India record its best-ever finish, a runners-up spot but only four teams participated in the third edition of the Asian Cup.

Let’s see the journey and the performance of the Blue Tigers at the AFC Asian Cup up till now and how have they evolved over the years:

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1964 AFC Asian Cup Israel

Indian Football Team qualified to the 1964 edition of Asian Cup without having to play any qualification matches as several teams had withdrawn or boycotted to the tournament due it being hosted by Israel.

Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s Prime Minister at the time died on the day of their opening match but the team took to the field against South Korea and beat the Taeguk Warriors 2-0 courtesy of goals from K Appalaraju and Inder Singh.

They lost to the hosts Israel 2-0 in their next match but bounced back to defeat Hong Kong 3-1 in their final encounter, Inder Singh striking again. India finished as runners-up with four points, behind eventual winners Israel.

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1984 AFC Asian Cup Singapore

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The Blue Tigers were on the decline since the 1960s and failed to qualify for the event for 20 years until 1984 when India hosted the 1984 Asian Cup qualifiers in Kolkata.

India eventually went down tamely in the final round, losing all but one of their matches.

Drawn against the hosts Singapore, China, Iran and the UAE, India conceded seven in their four matches, scoring none.

2011 AFC Asian Cup Qatar

India qualified by virtue of winning the AFC Challenge Cup 2008 at home, beating Tajikistan 4-1 in the final with Sunil Chhetri bagging a hat-trick. The competition though was disastrous for India as Blue Tigers despite going through massive preparations suffered heavy defeats in their campaign and ended up conceding 13 goals in three games.

2019 AFC Asian Cup

India will have the chance to test themselves against the UAE in the group stages itself but it is the larger picture they should be looking at during the Asian Cup. The brief should be to make giant strides towards ‘Mission 2026’. Even makeup of the team should reflect that and the next generation of Indian team is already being groomed. That is most important at the moment.

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Bhawna Kothari
Bhawna Kothari
Lover of cultures, varied colors, and underdogs, Bhawna is a by-heart and professional playwright. Hailing from a journalism & communication background, she incorporates a careful study at both flips of the coin which is essentially required to be analytical in thoughts and words. Actively abreast of the current affairs around the globe, she likes knowing and bringing into light the unexplored. Problem solving via the power of content is what inspires her and hence KreedOn, a platform created for the betterment of sports ecosystem in India, is now her happy workplace!


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