From triumph against Tajikistan to history against Thailand: India's greatest wins in AFC competitions
As India prepare for the all-important AFC Asian Cup qualifiers hoping to earn a ticket to the big event, here is a look at India's memorable wins in AFC competitions over the years.
The Indian football team will compete against Afghanistan, Hong Kong, and Cambodia in the third round of AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers. India will be looking to qualify for consecutive editions of the AFC Asian Cup for the first time in their history.
Success on the continental stage has not been easy to come by for The Blue Tigers but over the years, the team has enjoyed triumphs that have left a big mark on the supporters' minds who continue to cherish those wins till date.
As India prepare for the all-important qualifiers hoping to earn a ticket to the big event, here is a look at India's memorable wins in AFC competitions over the years.
South Korea vs India (0-2) 1964 AFC Asian Cup
Making their debut in the AFC Asian Cup, India faced powerhouse South Korea in thier very first match in the competition. The two teams had fresh history between them as they met just two years after India had got the better of the South Koreans in the Asian Games gold medal match in 1962.
The Koreans who had qualified for the tournament as eastern zone winners were dealt an early blow from when K Appalaraju scored in just the second minute. It was a blow South Korea could never really recover from as Inder Singh doubled India's lead in the 57th minute.
India won the match 2-0 to get off to a great start in the tournament which was then just a four-team affair. The Blue Tigers finished runners-up to Israel and this remains their best effort in Asia's premier competition till date.
India vs Tajikistan (4-1) 2008 AFC Asian Challenge Cup
The Blue Tigers scripted history and brought an end to their declining form by winning the 2008 AFC Asian Challenge Cup. Sunil Chhetri’s hat-trick in the final helped India cruise past Tajikistan in a 4-1 win. Moreover, Chhetri’s triplet also ensured India a slot in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup group stages as they ended their 27-year exile in the competition. India remained unbeaten throughout the Asian Challenge Cup. It was Chhetri's first international hat-trick. A hugely memorable day for Indian football.
✅ Qualified for @afcasiancup 2011— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) August 13, 2020
✅ @chetrisunil11's first int'l hat-trick
✅ A 4-1 win in the final#OnThisDay 12 years ago, the #BlueTigers 🐯 defeated Tajikistan 🇹🇯 in New Delhi to lift the AFC Challenge Cup 2008! 🏆#IndianFootball ⚽ #BackTheBlue 💙 #ThrowbackThursday 🔙 pic.twitter.com/O04Xf5q3e0
India vs Laos (6-1) 2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers
Striker Jeje Lalpekhlua scored twice in a 6-1 win as India put on a show in Guwahati to complete a 7-1 aggregate win Laos in the first round of the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers playpff round in June 2016. After a narrow win in the first leg, the floodgates opened as India flexed their attacking muscle.
The win may not have come against a strong opponent or at a very high level in the competition but it did give The Blue Tigers a much-needed confidence boost in their qualifying campaign.
India vs Kyrgyzstan (1-0) AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers 2019
The White Falcons from Kyrgyzstan were culled by a hardworking India. Despite being dominated by the visitors for large parts of the game, the Blue Tigers showed plenty of resolve to ride their skipper Sunil Chhetri's inspirational effort to triumph 1-0 and this match turned out to be one to remember for the maddeningly vociferous crowd at the Kanteerava stadium in Bengaluru which turned up to cheer India as they continued their quest to qualify for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
The victory was vital in helping India finish top of their group and thus book a ticket to the AFC Asian Cup finals in 2019.
India vs Thailand (4-1) AFC Asian Cup 2019
India recorded their first win at the Asian Cup finals since 1964 and did that in style in Abu Dhabi. The Blue Tigers opened their AFC Asian Cup 2019 campaign with a stunning 4-1 victory over Thailand after a brace from skipper Sunil Chhetri and goals from Anirudh Thapa and Jeje Lalpekhlua ensured India won the match by a margin of three goals.
It is one of India's greatest ever wins but despite their resounding success The Blue Tigers failed to advance to the knockout stage of the Asian Cup after a heartbreaking last-minute loss to Bahrain in their final group match.