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Team spirit reason for India's success in 1974 AFC Youth Championship, skipper Shabbir Ali

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Team spirit reason for India's success in 1974 AFC Youth Championship, skipper Shabbir Ali

Team spirit reason for India's success in 1974 AFC Youth Championship, skipper Shabbir Ali

New Delhi, April 28 (Ajit Weekly News) Fifty years ago, a rag-tag bunch of Indian youngsters made history by winning the 1974 AFC Youth Championship jointly with Iran. As Indian football gets ready to celebrate the 50th anniversary of that triumph on April 30, 1974, Shabbir Ali, captain of the Indian U20 team, said team spirit was the reason for that milestone moment in Bangkok, Thailand.

It was due to the strong team spirit that the India U-20 Men’s national team went on to create history.

The India national U20 team, comprising a bunch of unknown boys, was up against the odds even before it set foot in Bangkok as there was uncertainty about whether they would be able to travel for the event despite a month-long training camp in Patiala.

However, the Blue Colts overcame all hurdles and eventually went on to become the joint-champions of the championship, alongside Iran.

Team captain Shabbir Ali, who later went on to become a household name in Indian football, recalled, “We were facing a few issues about our travel to Bangkok, but eventually, on the AIFF’s request, the ministry finally sanctioned our travel. There were absolutely no expectations from us, but we managed to prove all doubters wrong.”

Ali, who later went on to captain the senior India national team too, felt that the results were down to the fighting spirit that the players showed in Thailand, five decades ago.

“The boys showed some excellent fighting spirit during that tour. Most of us were playing international football for the first time, so it was a new experience for us. Playing in front of such crowds was also new to many of us,” he said. “Only the boys from Calcutta (now Kolkata) had played in front of a hostile crowd, and they helped the rest of us.”

The forward later went on to be one of the top stars at Calcutta Maidan, East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting.

The grit, character, and togetherness that the boys showed was all down to the team spirit that was built by our coach Arun (Ghosh) da and the team manager Mr. Dilip Ghosh,” said Ali.

“I remember that our daily allowance was not much back in the junior team, so our team manager would get us all together and make morning coffee for everyone, every day we were in Thailand,” Ali told the-aiff.com.

“These may be small gestures, but they go a long way, especially when you’re dealing with players of a certain age group.

“The main thing for us was to be confident, and we got that after we beat Laos (1-0) in our first game. That win was the most important one, as we now had the belief that this level of football was not beyond us, that we had a chance to do something,” said Ali.

The team had the rather modest target of reaching the quarterfinals, which they did with much aplomb, topping their group. However, a terrific penalty shootout performance by goalkeeper Prasanta Mitra meant that India would face hosts Thailand in the semifinal.

“That match was a real test for us. They had so many fans, and we only had about 100 in the stands. Nobody would have given us a chance before that game started. We were just enjoying being in the semi-finals, while Thailand were the hosts, were backed by all the fans, and had scored 11 goals, and conceded none during their group stage,” Ali recalled. “But we pushed through all the way to the final.” India won 2-1, with Shabbir Ali and Mohammad Yaqoob scoring the two goals.

The final was yet another surprise for one and all, as India went on to draw 2-2 with defending champions Iran after extra time, and both teams were declared joint winners.

The Blue Colts returned to Calcutta with a fair amount of fanfare. Felicitations by various parties were the order of the day for the new Asian champions. However, there was one item missing from those celebrations – not that anybody complained about it.

“I do not remember coming back to Kolkata with the trophy. They had just one trophy and two champions, so it first went to Iran for six months, and then came to India for the other six, before it had to be returned,” said Ali. “We did get to click some pictures with the trophy after the match, though.”

The All-India Football Federation, on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, is hosting a 50th-year celebration of the heroes of the Indian team who were crowned champions of the 1974 AFC Youth Championship. The players and coaches of the famous team will be felicitated in Kolkata by AIFF President Kalyan Chaubey.

“It’s a very good initiative that the Federation President Kalyan Chaubey is taking. It’s important that we remember the past heroes of Indian football, and celebrate them,” said Ali.

–Ajit Weekly News

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News Credits – I A N S
#Team #spirit #reason #India039s #success #AFC #Youth #Championship #skipper #Shabbir #Ali

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