India kicked off their FIFA 2002 World cup qualification on 8th April 2001 against UAE, when they played host to the gulf nation at theAi??Sree Kanteerva Stadium, Bangalore having been drawn in Group 8 of the qualifying along with UAE, Yemen and Brunei. What followed was a night that is still special for the Indian Football fans. On 8th April, 2001, India stunned a UAE side ranked 64th in the world then. Eleven years down the line , we at TheHardTackle rewind the clock to recaptureAi??what happened on that night.

The Kick-off

The Indian National team was coached by Sukhwinder Singh and started off with the traditional 4-4-2 formation with Virender Singh guarding the goal. The defense was lead by the central defense pairing of TFA products Mahesh Gawli and Deepak Mondal with Surkumar Singh and K.V. Dhanesh as the full backs. The midfield comprised Jo-Paul Ancheri, Renedy Singh, Ai??Jules Alberto and the now Mumbai FC coachAi??Khalid Jamil. Star striker Baichung Bhutia who was playing at Bury in England at that time lead the attack with RC Prakash.

UAE were coached by Henri Michel at the time and had quite a good build-up to the World cup qualifiers which involved a 6-0 thrashing of Sri Lanka and friendlies against local sides in France and Denmark unlike India whoAi??hadn’tAi??played even a single match before this match if we leave aside the against local side CIL. Experienced DefenderAi??Jaleel Abdul Rahman Mohammed was given the task of Ai??keep Baichung under check.

The Goal and the Result

As the team went into the half-time the score read 0-0 with U.A.E. not able to convert their high Ai??percentage Ai??possession Ai??into any goals. The highly rated midfield duo of Ai??Abdul Salam Juma and his brother Abdul Raheem Juma was proving to be ineffective.Ai??The defenders were playing a tight game and were not giving any kind of space to the opponents. In the final third, there was nothing much the Indians had done except some runs from Baichung and the forwards were getting increasingly isolated. Jules Alberto header and a long ranger from Ancheri were other Indian attempts on the goal in the first half

The second half started on a bad note for India as Ancheri limped off in the 48th minute and was replaced by Rajondra Singh. As the hour mark approached Sukhi made a tactical change bringing on I.M. Vijayan in place of R.C. Prakash which proved to be a masterstroke. India switched from a 4-4-2 formation to a 4-4-1-1 formation with Vijayan linking the deep-lying IndianAi??midfieldersAi??to Baichung. Vijayan had anAi??immediateAi??impact on the game when he released Bhutia twice and also had a shy at goal with a trademark volley.

 

Jules Alberto Scoring India's goal. Baichung seemed to have got the final touch but goal was deservedly awarded to Jules

Jules Alberto Scoring India’s goal. Baichung seemed to have got the final touch but goal was deservedly awarded to Jules

 

And then came the goal. In the 71st minute, Khalid Jamil found Vijayan from a throw-in who crossed the ball into the UAE penalty box. Jules Alberto who stood at the edge of the penalty boxAi??steeredAi??the ball into the goal with his right foot even as he limped on the left foot, to send the crowd into frenzy and give India a 1-0 lead.

Stung by the goal, the UAE put their foot on the paddle to search for the equalizer but the Indian midfield and defenders were up to the mark andAi??thwartedAi??all attacks by the WestAi??Asians. TheAi??introductionAi??of Noel Wilson in place of goal scorer Jules Alberto provided support to the Indian back four and ensured that the Indians hung on for the next 18Ai??minutesAi??to complete one of the most memorable victories against a top 100 nation in recent times.

Indian Players celebrate Jules Alberto' s Goal against UAE in 2002 World Cup Qualifiers

Indian Players celebrate Jules Alberto’ s Goal against UAE in 2002 World Cup Qualifiers

 

The After Effects

It was indeed a memorable victory for the then 124 ranked national team to defeat the 64th ranked UAE. The team led by Baichung Bhutia completed a lap of honour in front of a 40000-strong audience after the match. The hotel where the team was staying had prepared a special cake to mark this victory and Indian cricketer Rahul Dravid had turned up to congratulate the team.

It was indeed a great time effort which culminated into an unexpected yet sweet victory but India has not been able to make the most of this victory. We hope that in the coming years, we will get to see such victories as the world awaits India to rise on the Football map.

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6 Responses to “Indian Football: India 1-0 UAE – 8 April 2001 (THT Rewind)”

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  1. Ashok says:

    Yup..that must have been day to remember. Excellent article. BTW the article has a typo at one place (says 2011 instead of 2001)

  2. krish says:

    so close to getting through to the next round of qualifying that year!!