What is a perfect football match? Two teams playing at a good pace, two teams who are trying to win the match outright. Two teams coming from extremely different backgrounds. Two teams who desperately want to taste some success. The match ends with one team being victorious by a single goal. The players go wild, the fans embrace each other and cry their hearts out. Their foreign coach, who has witnessed the difficulties this team has gone through first hand celebrates and runs wildly on the pitch. Tears flood the pitch, the national flag is out. This is the story of the Syrian National team. Or should we say, another testament of the failure of a 1.3 billion nation to succeed in football.

Pic Courtesy : Indian Football Team

Syria, Palestine, Afghanistan and many countries like them have one thing in common among their players. Passion. For many of them, Football isn't just a livelihood, a source of money and fame. Football for them is a chance to have a life away from the usual war and chaos that has dismantled the social fabric in their country. The passion of playing for the nation tops any incentive for them. And this gives rise to heroes, of stories that will be passed down for generations.

While for India? It's the same as it were 5 years back. If someone feels we have improved because our "gameplay" seems good, I'll beg to differ. Zero goals scored in the three games. Players sitting on multi year multi crore contracts. One can only wonder, if any of this players played for Syria, would they even get selected? Sure, the defensive effort was laudable. But, you can't win a game until you score. It's not rocket science, but common sense. Something that this team and the organisation behind running this sport in this country lacks.

Let's get into the match, shall we? Stimac started with Gurpreet in goal, yet again. No accountability for the howlers in the last two matches whatsoever. Sandesh Jhingan, Rahul Bheke Subhasish Bose started at the back. Akash Mishra and Chhangte started on the flanks with Mahesh, Tangri and Apuia in the middle. Upfront it was Manvir and Sunil Chhetri.

The game began with end to end action. Mahesh came close to opening the scoring in the third minute. Syria came back, this time launching a series of shots. First it came from the corner. A good save from close range by Gurpreet. Syria were finding it hard to penetrate the Indian defense and hence launched a bunch of shots from outside the box. 

One thing which became clear was Syria is much more technically and physically better than India. India were bullied in the midfield, losing the ball at every instance possible. Granted we defended well, but what was our option? We couldn't attack, we could win the ball back in the midfield. Chances after chances, clearance after clearance. The scores remained nil nil at half time. A draw wouldn't have favoured India anyways, but were we even playing to win? 

The second half began on a bad note as Sandesh Jhingan had to be substituted out due to injury. Syria slowly grew into the game, giving no chances to India. Whenever we got the ball, we panicked and gave it back. Shit after shot, it felt like a ticking bomb for India. And it soon blasted destroying the dream.

It's said that great leaders are born in great difficulties. The more perilous the situation, the bigger the character who steps up and makes the difference. And up rose the Syrian captain, the first Syrian to be Asian footballer of the year Omar Khribin. A beautifully taken shot which beat Gurpreet at near post. 

The Syrians went wild. The shirts were off, the players juniliant, their fans in seventh heaven. This is it. Their long cherished dream. A ray of hope to escape the pangs of darkness that has drowned their nation. For India? It was the same story yet again. Same thing, same result. 

India tried to launch a few attacks in the later stages of the game but had no bite. The players gave up. The coach was getting ready with his antics and excuses. The same old story of Indian football continues, rotten from head to toe.



Igor Stimac says we don't have one. Or is it that we don't want to have one? One can only wonder if this team was selected on the basis of form, Kiyan from Mohun Bagan or David from Mohammedan or Gurkirat from Mumbai City wouldn't have made it? New names like Ayush Chhikara and Lalbiaknia are emerging everyday. Why aren't they given the chance? Surely they can't score less than zero goals?

One should read this not as an attack to Sunil Chhetri. He is India's finest, no doubt. But age catches up to everyone. It's time he chooses his own successor. It's time for him to contribute towards finding the new Sunil Chhetri. India cannot keep depending on him if we are to ever have a chance against top teams.


Igor Stimac's squad selections are baffling to say the least. Are players selected on the basis of current form? Nope. Are players held accountable for their mistakes? Nope. Are players allowed to play freely? Nope.

We are still stuck with players from the yesteryears like Udanta. One can only wonder, if form was the criteria for selection, would Parthib Gogoi, Kiyan Nassiri or Jay Gupta have not made it? Igor Stimac should understand the team is not his personal property, it's the Indian team. The best interests of the team should be placed before anything else.


Perennial unlucky losers one might say. The unqualified giant, whose sleep is so deep no one can wake him up. From the grassroots to the top tier, everything is corrupted in this system, every decision is political and related to money. Look at the conditions and the exposure matches our youth players get, but wait,do they get any? 

Nothing can justify this shambolic exit yet again from Asia's biggest football tournament. Nothing is ever gonna change if the current setup remains the same. Support is not the problem, the fans will always back the team. But will the cheer a misplaced pass, a loose long ball or a loss to Syria for eternity? Will they celebrate useless wins against Nepal and Bangladesh for eternity? Maybe not.

Wake up Indian football fans. Enough is enough. Raise your voices, make your presence felt. We deserve better. On Netaji's birthday, we can take the pledge to drive these cheats and frauds away from our football federation. A team for the fans, by the fans. A team for the nation. A new team India.

Pic Courtesy : Indian Football Team


AKASH : 5.5/10
JHINGAN : 7.5/10
BHEKE : 7.5/10
TANGRI : 7/10
APUIA : 6/10
MAHESH : 5.5/10
MANVIR : 5.5/10
CHHETRI : 6/10

UDANTA : 5.5/10
POOJARY : 5/10
SAHAL : 5/10
THAPA : 5/10
SURESH : 5/10

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