India vs Pakistan, in any format of any sport is set to flash headlines, be it football, cricket or even lawn tennis. In football, the rivalry started in 1952 in Colombo, where the two nations met for the very first time. India first tasted victory in 1953 at the Quadrangular tournament in Rangoon, wherein India won by a single goal. With India U-23 and Pakistan U-23 to clash in a two match series in the build-up to the Asian Games, TheHardTackle takes a look at five memorable encounters from the new millennium. The matches are listed in no particular oder
AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers, Malaysia ( March 23, 2011)
Coming after a good calender year and proving in their win against Taipei, the “Bhangara boys” were expected to qualify quiet easily in the group they were placed by thrashing Pakistan in the second group match. Indian coach Bob Houghton made one change to the starting lineup which won 3-0 against Taipei, replacing Raju Gaikwad with the experienced Anwar in defense. This meant Anwar played as the Central Defender while Govin Singh moved to the right back position.It was mainly India, who were calling all the shots in the Initial stages, looking for an early breakthrough. On the contrary Pakistan took a surprise lead in the 32nd minute against the run of play through striker Arif Mehmood after an error by the Indian defense. It remained 1-0 for Pakistan at half time and an upset was on the cards.
After the half time, Pakistan had to fight to hold onto this lead with Indian captain Sunil Chhetri constantly testing the Ppakistani defense. The pressure caved into the Pakistanis and in the 67th minute young Jeje Lalpekhulua got India’s deserving equalizer after an excellent pass from the left by Syed Rahim Nabi. Still, it wasn’t over yet as India continued to hunt for the win. India took the lead on the stroke of full time through a well curled free kick from winger Steven Dias, while a second from Jeje, deep into injury time sealed the game in favor of India. The win put India on six points from two matches while Pakistan were eliminated.
SAF Games, Dhaka ( Feburary 2, 2010)
In one of the biggest win margins of Indian football history, India thrashed a poor looking Pakistan 5-1. Since its induction in 1984 in the South Asian Games, football was often neglected by the Indian Delegation The 2010 games, saw India sending a mixture of experience and youth in the ranks of football. Jeje was certainely one to watch as he was making headlines back home.
The game was no less then a mauling,with India constantly having possession in the final third pitch. The Pakistani defense showed signs of instability and no co-ordination within the central defenders, whereas the Indian attack were showing genuine signs of threat and link up play. The thrashing soon began and India rode on a three goal effort from Jeje Lalpekhula with Lalrindika Ralte and Tirthankar Sarakar scoring a goal each to complete one of the most impressive scoreline wins in Indian football, 5-1. Pakistan pulled one goal back with Rizwan, but that was only a consolation.
SAFF Championships, Kathmandu, Nepal ( September 1, 2013)
India are expected to win in almost every SAFF Championships and that remained the case with the 2013 edition too. The Indian contingent were not in their best forms and were not even the highest ranked team in the region, with India coming from back to back defeats and coach Wim Koevermans was under pressure to deliver against arch rivals Pakistan. India started with a basic 4-4-2 formation which was later reverted to a 4-4-1-1 with Sunil Chhetri leading the line.
The defending champions India produced an under-par and listless performance but still managed to beat the Pakistan, thanks to an own goal by Pakistan’s captain Samar Ishaq in the 14th minute. The match was a contest between Pakistani defender and former Fulham player Zesh Rahman and Indian Captain Sunil Chhetri. Both were unable to give their best performances and Chhetri was unable to convert the chances that came his way The winner in the 14th minute was more about a defensive error on the part of Pakistan rather than a full flow Indian attack. Right wing back Nirmal Chettri overlapped and tried to find an onrushing Sunil between the two rival central defenders in the opposition box, but Pakistan captain Samar Ishaq made a faulty clearance that entered his own goal.
This performance saw the Indians taking on Bangladesh in their second group league encounter, resulting in a 1-1 draw. The Indians would go on to finish second in their Group, beat Maldives in the semifinals and would bow out to Afghanistan 2-0 in the finals.
SAFF Championship, Male ( June 5, 2008 )
Clubbed in Group A with Maldives, Pakistan and Nepal, the defending champions were expected to top the Group and go all the way to lift the trophy. India were coming from an impressive 4-0 win against Nepal, with both Sunil Chhetri and Baichung Bhutia on the score sheet for the Blue Tigers while on the other hand Pakistan were coming into the game with a pretty bad run of form, recently loosing 3-0 to Maldives.
India again started in the conventional 4-4-2, which could also operate as a 4-4-1-1 with either of Bhutia or Chhetri leading the line. The game proceeded with no less than the Indian attack bombarding and breaching the Pakistani line of defense. It was no wonder that India took the lead in the 25th minute through Pappachen Pradeep who finished beautifully. The Indians were retaining possession in the half way line and a Pakistani counterattack was a rarity. The possession kept, was just a matter of time before the attack would once again breach the defense. Steven Dias scored in the added time of the first half, to give the Indians a well deserved two goal lead and it remained 2-0 till the final whistle.
SAF Games, Islamabad ( March 30, 2004)
30th March, 2004 marked the first time that India would venture into enemy territory, having dominated the century, it was expected from the Indians to do well and get a result in their favor in the nemesis’s capital, Islamabad. The match played , was a pretty dull affair, with neither of the two teams showing any technicality and prowess. It was a scrappy opening to both halves of the game and neither team showed signs of keeping possession and dictating play. The goal came as a result of faulty defending and an unwanted challenge which led to a penalty scored calmly by Debaratra Roy. What was more emphatic for the Indians were a win in the land of their arch – rivals which they achieved even if by a clueless performance.
India and Pakistan have often been equals in cricket but that is not the matter with football, there is a clear majority with India as the heavy weights in this tie. Having played 30 matches against each other, India have won 17 and Pakistan a mere 5, whilst 8 matches drawn. This clearly reflects brassiness of the tie, moreover India have found the net 45 times, while Pakistan a mere 23. The future holds the key for both the countries, with the subcontinent being dubbed as the “sleeping giant”, we can expect a number of talents coming from both the countries and an advanced style of game.