On this day: India wins football gold in 1962 Asian Games

Former defender Arun Ghosh revisits the final between India and South Korea which took place exactly 58 years ago in Jakarta.

The Indian football team celebrates after defeating South Korea in the Asian Games final. - THE HINDU ARCHIVES

Arun Ghosh still gets goosebumps revisiting the gold that India won in the Asian Games in Jakarta in 1962.

Ghosh, a former defender, was one of the key members of Indian football team of the ‘Golden Era’.

India defeated South Korea 2-1 in the final, which was held on September 4, 1962, exactly 58 years ago. That was the last gold medal India won in the Asian Games football. India had also won the gold medal in the inaugural Asian Games in 1951 in New Delhi.

Ghosh, who along with Jarnail Singh and Syed Nayeemuddin formed a solid defensive trio, said the Indonesians wanted India to lose that final but the Pakistan hockey team cheered for it. “I still feel goosebumps when I go back to that evening of 4th September, 1962. The Senayan Main Stadium in Jakarta was jampacked with a partisan 1,00,000-strong Indonesian crowd cheering for Korea Republic at the top of their voice,” Ghosh said.

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“But we had our support too. Any guesses? Strange as it may sound, the Pakistan hockey team cheered for us. Unbelievable, but true,” he wrote for the All India Football Federation website.

‘Pin-drop silence’

Despite the hostile atmosphere, P. K. Banerjee gave India the lead before Jarnail Singh doubled it. Jarnail had stitches on his forehead due to an injury in an earlier match and was played as a centre forward in the match. “There was pin-drop silence at the stadium when we went 2-0 up. Though Korea scored a late goal, goalkeeper Peter (Thangaraj) saw off the danger till the end. The animosity against the Indian continent was so high that no one came to congratulate us even after the match. But, what a night it was for Indian football!”

Former India defender, Arun Ghosh. - THE HINDU ARCHIVES

 

Ghosh paid tribute to the celebrated coach Syed Abdul Rahim, who guided India to the fourth place in the 1956 Olympics besides the 1962 Asian Games gold.

“Rahim saab knew his players like the back of his hand. He knew how to bring the best out of a certain player. After Jarnail got injured, he switched me from right-back to centre-back and I lived up to his expectations. Since then, I have always played as a centre-back for the Blue Tigers till I hung my boots. His other masterstroke was to bring a heavily bandaged Jarnail Singh back against South Vietnam in the semifinal. But not as a defender, rather as a centre-forward. Everyone got stunned but Jarnail scored in back-to-back games.”

‘Attack starts from the goalkeeper’

Ghosh, who also played in the 1960 Olympics, said Rahim was the one who first taught the Indian team the concept of defenders going for attack. “When we started to play as a defender, our aim was primarily to clear the ball and avert the danger. But Rahim saab changed the perception. He taught us ‘Attack starts from the goalkeeper’. He taught us the nuances of ground-passing and taking the game forward individually. The entire vantage point was changed and we started to notice the result soon.”

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Ghosh, an Arjuna awardee, also coached the Indian national team in the 1982 Asian Games and served as AIFF Technical Director from 1992 to 1994.

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