Nehru Cup 1982-88: A Flashback of the invitational tournament held in India

As the 15th edition of the Nehru Cup around the corner, looks back at India's performance in all the past editions of the competition...
By Kaustav Bera

Nehru Cup is an invitational tournament held since 1982 in India by the All India Football Federation. From 1982 to 1991 it was held every year annually in different Indian cities. From 1991-1997 it was a biannual tournament. However the Nehru Cup went missing from 1998-2006  and it was only due to the persistence of former India national coach, Bob Houghton that the Nehru Cup was brought back from its demise. Since then it was held in 2007 and 2009, both editions where India were triumphant.

Originally conceived as a tournament to give India more international exposure especially in a competitive scenario, the Nehru Cup often comprised some very good footballing sides from all over the world. India would often be outclassed at the tournament and it was only in the past two editions that they dominated. The 2012 Nehru Cup will be the 15th edition of this tournament, and will consist of Syria,Nepal,Maldives and Cameroon who are ranked 56th in the world besides India. It will be held in a round robin with each team playing the other and the two highest ranked teams will then contest the final.

Kolkata, West Bengal

16 Feb 82 India 1-1 China
18 Feb 12 India 2-2 South Korea
21 Feb 12 India 0-1 Italy Amateurs
25 Feb 12 India 1-3 Uruguay
27 Feb 12 India 2-1 Yugoslovia B
Teams- India, Uruguay, China, South Korea, Italy Amateurs, Yugolslovia B

Winners - Uruguay

Final: Uruguay 2-0 China (Jorge da Silva, A Nadal)

Top Scorers:  Manas Bhattacharya, India
     3 goals    Hae-Won Chung, South Korea
                   Soon-Ho Choi, South Korea
Scorers For India
Manas Bhattacharya - 3 goals
Mihir Bose   -    1 goal
Prasanta Banerjee - 1 goal
Manoranjan Bhattacharya - 1 goal

India looked pretty good going into the first Nehru Cup held in 1982 as they boasted a good side comprising the likes of Prasanta Banerjee and Manas Bhattacharya. They managed to draw their first two games but then a close defeat to Italy Amateurs meant that India failed to make the final as they were thoroughly beaten by a fancy Uruguay team.

Uruguay swept China aside with apparent ease and were deserved champions of the first ever Nehru Cup.

Kochi, Kerala

15 Mar 83 India 1-2 China U-19
21 Feb 12 India 0-1 Italy Amateurs
25 Feb 12 India 1-2 Hungary Olympic
(Haladás VSE)
Group A: Romania U-21, Cameroon, Iran
Group B: India,China U-19, Italy Amateurs, Hungary Olympic
* Algeria had pulled out       
Winners - Hungary Olympic

Final: Hungary Ol 2-1 China U-19

Top Scorers: Dan Tîrnovean, Romania ( 3 goals )
Scorers For India
Akkum - 1 goal
Parminder Singh - 1 goal

This was a miserable tournament for India as they were ousted from the group stages itself after losing all three of their matches.
In the Group stages, although the Chinese U-19 team defeated the club side from Hungary who came in the guise of the Hungary Olympic side, they had their revenge in the final as they defeated China U-19 to emerge victorious in the 1983 Nehru Cup which also introduced Group Stages into the competition as compared to the previous round robin format. However Group A comprised of only three teams as Algeria had pulled out of the tournament.

Kolkata, West Bengal

11 Jan 84 India 1-2 Poland
14 Jan 84 India 0-1 Argentina
19 Jan 84 India 0-1 Vassas Budapest
22 Jan 84 India 0-0 Romania U-21
25 Jan 84 India 0-3 China
Teams- India,Poland, Argentina, China, Vassas Budapest, Romania U-21
Winners - Poland

Final: Poland 1-0 China (Roman Wojcicki)

Top Scorers:  Roman Wojcicki, Poland
   (3 goals)    Laszlo Kiss, Vassas Budapest
Scorers For India
Biswajit Bhattaracharjee - 1 goal

The 1984 Nehru Cup was a star studded affair with national teams from Argentina, Poland and China making an appearance. Needless to say, India were outclassed thoroughly with their best result in the tournament being a 0-0 draw against the Romanian U-21 side. The tournament once again returned to the round robin format. Surprisingly Argentina failed to make the cut and it was Poland and China who fought it out in the final with Poland triumphing.

Kochi, Kerala

23 Jan 85 India 0-1 South Korea Youth
27 Jan 85 India 2-3 Algeria B
31 Jan 85 India 0-1 Morocco
Group A:
India, South Korea youth, Algeria B, Morocco
Group B:
Soviet Union, China University XI, Yugoslovia, Iran
Winners - Soviet Union

: Soviet Union 2-1 Yugoslavia
(S Aleinikov,G Kondratiev  / Faruk Hadzibegic pen )

Top Scorers:  Kim Sam-Soo, South Korea Youth
   (3 goals)  
Scorers For India
Aloke Mukherjee - 1 Goal
Prasanta Banerjee - 1 Goal

India again failed to show any kind of form in the Nehru Cup as they again ended up with three defeats, even when they were placed in a comparatively weaker group. Soviet Union ran out as eventual winners, contesting the final against Yugoslavia. Interestingly Yugoslavia had defeated Soviet Union in the group stages. This began the first of a series of a Soviet Union triumphs in the Nehru Cup.

Thirivananthapuram, Kerala

17  Jan 86 India 0-6 Soviet Union B
20  Jan 86 India 0-2 S. Korea Uni XI
22  Jan 86 India 0-5 East Germany
25  Jan 86 India 0-0 China
30  Jan 86 India 0-1 Peru
Teams- India, Soviet Union B, South Korea University XI, East Germany, China, Peru

Winners - Soviet Union B

Final: China 0-1 Soviet Union B
         (Vadim Yevtushenko 67' pen)

Top Scorers:  Vadim Yevtushenko, Soviet Union B
   (6 goals)   
Scorers For India
India ended the tournament goal less.

If India were outplayed in the previous editions of the Nehru Cup, this was a handsome demolition. In 5 matches, the Indian team conceded 14 goals, including the 6-0 thrashing against the Soviet B team and also a 5 goal massacre against East Germany. Even though the Soviet Union only sent their B team, Vadim Yevtushenko had a gala time, scoring 6 goals and helping them defend their crown with aplomb.

Kozhikode, Kerala

23 Jan 87 India 1-1 China B
27 Jan 87 India 0-2 Bulgaria
1 Feb 87 India 1-1 Denmark
Group A:
Soviet Union, East Germany, Syria, Nigeria
Group B:
India, Bulgaria, China B, Denmark
Denmark had only domestic Danish players
Winners - Soviet Union

Final: Soviet Union 2-0 Bulgaria
          (Vadim Tishchenko, Aleksey Mikhaylichenko)

Top Scorers: Vasil Dragolov, Bulgaria
  (4 goals)   
Scorers For India
Penn Dorji - 1 goal
Sisir Ghosh - 1 goal

Soviet Union completed their hattrick of successive Nehru Cup triumphs by beating a competent Bulgaria side in the finals. Surprisingly, under new coach Syed Nayeemuddin, India gave a vastly better performance in the competition as compared to before, with two narrow draws robbing them of their chance to progress to the semi-final stages.

Siliguri, West Bengal

19  Jan 88 India 0-2 China B
22  Jan 88 India 1-4 Hungary
25  Jan 88 India 0-3 Bulgaria
28  Jan 88 India 1-1 Poland
1  Feb 88 India 0-2 Soviet Union
Teams- India, Soviet Union, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, China B

Winners - Soviet Union

Final: Poland 0-2 Soviet Union
         (Yuriy Savichev, Valdas Ivanauskas)

Top Scorers: Marek Lesniak, Poland
   (3 goals)   
Scorers For India
Vijay Kuma - 1 goal (penalty)
Tarun Dey  - 1 goal

After the massively improved performance last year, India again slumbered to a poor showing in 1988, drawing one and losing four of their five matches in the round robin stage. Soviet Union, however made it four in a row beating Poland in the final comprehensively.

Stay tuned for Part II which chronicles the editions from 1989-2009.

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