India vs France – reliving Independent India’s first ever official match

On 30th July 1948, almost one year after gaining Independence, India played its first ever International football match against France, in the 1948 London Olympics.

On 31st July 1948, almost one year after gaining Independence, India played its first ever International football match against France at the world’s biggest sporting event – Olympics.

The 1948 London Olympics gave India an opportunity to compete against the world’s best. Under the guidance of Mohun Bagan coach Balaidas Chatterjee, the squad traveled to Great Britain after AIFF successfully managed to get India in Olympics, thanks to few other countries that withdrew.

The AIFF had done well to send the Indian team almost a month early to the event and had organised few matches leading up to the tournament. India played five unofficial friendlies against English amateur clubs winning all five and in the process scoring 39 goals while conceding just 5. The barefooted Indians’ dribbling and their exceptional ball control had managed to delight the English audience.

Indian players training at Richmond Park Olympic Camp. Source: Official report, 1948 Olympics.
Indian players training at Richmond Park Olympic Camp. Source: Official report, 1948 Olympics.

Finally, fifteen days prior to India celebrating its first anniversary, the Indian team took on France in the first round game of 1948 Olympics. Taking on a European team the Indian squad, led by centre-half Talimeren Ao, came out bare feet to play the game. Although France were not the world beaters they were still a one of those good teams that were regular in the world cups.

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images
Referee Gunnar Dahlner (c) looks on as the two captains, France’s G Robert (l) and India’s AAO Talineran (r), shake hands before the match (Photo by Barratts/PA Images via Getty Images)

In a wet and cold surface of the English field, a bare-footed Indian team showcased some determined performances creating good chances against their much-fancied opponent. Although India looked like a better side, it was France that took the lead when Rene Courbin drew first blood on the half-hour mark.

India soon had a chance to draw level when Gunnar Dahlner, the Swedish referee, pointed to the spot just before the break. Sailen Manna stepped up for the spot-kick but failed to make the penalty-kick count, as his effort sailed way over the bar. However, India was granted another chance minutes later with a second penalty. This time it was Mahabir Prasad, who took the responsibility but once again India was denied after France Goalkeeper Guy Rouxel pulled off a brilliant save.

Embed from Getty Images

France goalkeeper G. Rouxel (right) saves from India’s Raman (centre) (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

Despite missing two penalties, India continued to attack in search of the equalizer and they were finally rewarded in the 70th minute. In a well played move, Ahmed khan combined well with substitute B Vajravelu, as the latter provided the final assist for Sarangapani Raman for a final shot on goal to draw level. It was 1-1 and game on. However, back in those days Football in India was 70 minutes game. As a result, Indian players began tiring out in the already cold weather. France tried to take advantage of the depleting Indian energy but the defence held on bravely.

Embed from Getty Images

India goalkeeper Varadaraj makes a save during the match against France (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

However in the final minute of the game, the tiring Indian defence suffered a defensive lapse that led to French player Rene Persillon slotting home a winner for France. The game ended soon at 1-2 in favour of France and although the agonizing last minute winner from France meant India were out of the competition, the barefooted performances from Indians had managed to win the hearts of the 17000 strong crowd, who applauded the players’s effort.

Despite the first round exit for Indians, the match became a foundation for the India’s best footballing years. In the following decade India went on win gold in 1951 and 1962 Asian games while also coming 4th in Melbourne Olympics.

Also Read: I won’t miss any chance again – Rohmingthanga

For similar articles on unknown talented footballers – visit here

For Trial related updates: Latest trials updates in Mumbai Football

Follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for all the latest happenings in the world of Indian football

SSE BFC to conduct trials for U9 to U17 age group players

SSE BFC Soccer School will be conducting fresh trials this month for players aged below 17 to be part of their football program SSE BFC Soccer Schools is a football…


India Khelo Football Season 3 Trials for Mumbai and Thane are here

India Khelo Football (IKF) is back with Season 3 of its widely acclaimed trials with an aim to cover more than 50 cities this time around. After the resounding success…


Mastering the Art of Football Trials: Key Pre-Trial Factors to Keep in Mind

Football trials are a critical juncture for aspiring players to showcase their skills and secure a spot in a team. To maximize your chances of success, it’s essential to tailor your approach based on your playing position as well as keeping in mind a few pre-trial factors.


Somaiya Sports Academy to conduct trials for MFA 2nd Division campaign

Somaiya Sports Academy is looking for passionate young football players for the Somaiya Sports Academy Football Team to compete in the MFA 2nd Division League 2023-2024. If selected, you will…


BFC Soccer Schools – Mumbai to conduct trials for U14 & U16 Girls

The BFC Soccer Schools Elite team girls’ trials are coming up in search of talented players from the U14 to U16 (Born 2009 and after) age groups into the club’s…


Opportunity to make the team: U.K.M. Kothrud FC conducts selection trials for girls team

Pune-based U.K.M. Kothrud FC has announced that they will be conducting selection trials for their girl’s team on 15th January 2023 The club welcomes all players to come and showcase…


The Sunday Football League Season 4 is back

The Sunday Football League is back with its fourth season, and it’s shaping up to be the best one yet. With eight talented teams competing at the Kes Kandivali turf, there…


BFC Soccer Schools Elite team trials in Feb

Bengaluru FC launched their Mumbai program last season with the Soccer Schools and Elite programs with its local partner Soccer Schools of Excellence (SSE).  Bengaluru Football Club is a professional club…


India Khelo Football Season 2 Trials in Mumbai: A Chance to Kickstart Your Football Career

After conducting trials in 34 cities & villages across India, India Khelo Football is coming to Mumbai to hunt talent on 7th January. India Khelo Football kickstarted its season 2…


Mumbai Customs to conduct trials for Elite League

Former champions Mumbai Customs will be holding open trials for the upcoming MFA Elite Corporate League (Elite Division) The 2019 MFA Elite Division champions Mumbai Customs are conducting open trials…