Despite football being a highly popular game in India, major victories at the international stage are few and far between. While the national team languishes at the rock bottom of the rankings, the All Indian Football Federation has done precious little to raise the standard of the game in India. However, Indian football has had its share of glory days as well. India qualified for the 1950 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, when all of their opponents withdrew from the competition. However, India refused to participate in the event, as FIFA required all the players to wear football boots, whereas the Indian players were used to playing barefoot.
India made its Olympic debut in football at the 1948 London Games, but lost 1-2 to France in the first match. In the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, India became the first Asian nation to reach the semifinals of an Olympic football event, defeating Australia 4-2 in the quarterfinal. The hallmark of the win was the hat trick by centre forward Neville D'Souza, who became the first and until now only Asian to achieve the feat in the Olympics. Between 1951 and 1962, during the golden era of Indian football, India was a major power in Asia, having won the football gold medals.
The Indian national football team won a gold in the 1951 and 1962 Asian Games at New Delhi and Jakarta respectively and the bronze medal in tile 1970 Bangkok Asian Games. India was the runner up of 1964 Asia Cup. India was the winner of the 1987 South Asian Football Games. The country has won the South Asian Football Federation Cup 4 times, in 1993, 1997, 1999 and 2005, but the field features the minnows of Asian football. In 2002, India won the LG Cup in Vietnam under English coach Stephen Constantine. India reached the quarterfinal of AFC Challenge cup in 2006, while the country bagged the Cup in 2008. The country won the Nehru Cup in 2007.