National Youth Team
AIFF President felicitates heroes of 1974 AFC Youth Champions squad
30 Apr 2024

AIFF Media Team

KOLKATA: All India Football Federation President Mr. Kalyan Chaubey, on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, felicitated the players of the 1974 India Youth National Team in Kolkata, who were the joint champions of the AFC Youth Championship 50 years ago.

In a packed media conference in the city, the AIFF President presented mementoes to six members of the 1974 squad, captain Shabbir Ali, CC Jacob, Dilip Palit, Shishir Guha Dastidar, Ranjit Das (Gobinda), and SP Kumar.

The coach of the winning squad, Mr. Arun Ghosh, could not be present owing to health reasons. His son-in-law received the memento on behalf of Mr. Ghosh.

IFA President Mr. Ajit Banerjee, Chairperson Mr. Subrata Dutta, and Secretary Mr. Anirban Dutta were present.

Speaking on the occasion, the AIFF President recalled the achievements of the 1974 squad, which won the AFC Youth Championship jointly with Iran in Bangkok, Thailand, after a thrilling 2-2 draw that was extended to extra time.

Mr. Chaubey said, “When I began my footballing journey, I had heard that the 1970s were a golden period in Indian Football. I would like to convey my gratitude to Shabbir da for reminding me of April 30, 1974, so that we could celebrate the 50th anniversary of this famous victory.”

He said, “For 48 years post India’s independence, we never focused on utilising the FIFA friendly windows, FIFA World Cup or even to collaborate with the world of football. As per the then-policy (1948 to 1998) decisions, we chose not to look beyond the Olympics and the Asian Games.

“Could this obscure policy of the then decision makers, have led India to miss 50 years of international football exposure, when countries across the world were embracing FIFA norms and participating in the development of the game rapidly?

“We may have started to pick up the pace in the last few years. However, we have already lost those five decades, which is a long bridge to build when we know that others are way ahead,” he said.

India’s captain from the 1974 team, Shabbir Ali said, “I thank the AIFF and its President Mr. Kalyan Chaubey for making the efforts to felicitate the players who brought laurels for India, five decades ago. It was a great tournament where India remained unbeaten in six consecutive matches and did not allow overwhelming favourites Iran to defeat us.

“We were a team who were determined to win and we achieved it in the end. Under Arun Ghosh and Abdur Salaam, we were a cohesive lot who trained in Patiala for almost a month before going to Bangkok. I am happy that the current generation will be able to know about our games through these commendable efforts of the AIFF,” said Ali.

Mr. Chaubey said that there is a need to archive all the records of Indian Football and its achievements over the years.

“Independent India’s first football captain was Talimeren Ao. Very few know of him today. As per the records, he is from Assam. However, the fact remains that he is from Nagaland.

“I have recently spoken to the Nagaland Chief Minister and he assured me that the state is very serious about reclaiming its football heritage. To that extent, we are working on a biography of Mr. Ao’s life. We hope that not only will it help the people of Nagaland connect to their heroes of yesteryears, but also it will be helpful for the entire northeast to celebrate a hero from the region,” he said.

The AIFF President further elaborated on the federation’s efforts to nurture the stars of the future.

“We have been working with FIFA on building various academies across the country so that we can get back to that level once again. We have already started the AIFF-FIFA Academy in Bhubaneswar, and if footballing stalwarts like Arsene Wenger are involved in processes like talent identification and growth, then we can definitely play the FIFA U-17 World Cup on merit, soon,” said Mr. Chaubey.

“We can only think of improving the present once we obtain inspiration from the past. But it is also a double-edged sword if we remain satisfied with the past. We would, in that case, run the risk of complacency setting in,” said the AIFF President.

Mr. Chaubey highlighted the importance of generating a wider pool of players, in order to improve the levels of Indian Football.

“I am sure everyone has seen our efforts to take the Santosh Trophy to the next level. Our goal is to increase our pool of players. Getting new players is the need of the hour. To that extent, we are trying to revive as many tournaments as we can,” he said.“The Kalinga Super Cup has already been started, the Durand Cup has been conducted extremely well for the past few years. Now we are making efforts to revive the old glories of tournaments like the Bordoloi Trophy, the IFA Shield, and so on. The I-League is also receiving support from the lower rungs, which are the I-League 2 and I-League 3.”

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