Amar Bahadur - Unsung Hero of Asian Games
By Raju Gusain from Dehradun in garhwal post
"My best goal is the one that I scored against Japan in the crucial match of the 1970 Bangkok Asian Games. India won 1-0 to secure the bronze medal in football."
Recalling this glorious moment for Indian football, Amar Bahadur adds, "I received an excellent cross from Manjeet Singh from the right flank to score the winning goal."
The goal has left some bitter memories for Amar Bahadur. This is because he was not given the credit for it and reports in Indian newspapers flashed the name of Manjeet Singh as the scorer. Even today, the record books mention the name of Manjeet Singh. So Amar Bahadur remains an unsung hero in India despite his historic performance in Bangkok. Incidentally, this was the goal that gave India its last football medal in an international competition.
Speaking about the controversy, legendary footballer Shyam Thapa says, "I was also a member of the Bangkok Asian Games football squad. Amar Bahadur scored the winning goal and it is sad that Manjeet is given credit for the goal."
The thirty-five year old mix-up by newspersons remains to be corrected. In these 35 years, Japan has made tremendous progress in the game, while football is facing a tough time in India. India is ranked 131 and Japan 13 in the FIFA ranking.
When asked what has gone wrong with Indian football, Amar said, "We beat Japan at the Jakarta Asiad. Japan is now among the top 15 football playing nations and we are nowhere. The lack of policy and infrastructure has hampered promotion of soccer in our country." Born on 18 April 1942 in Dehradun, Amar Bahadur studied at the Gorkha Military School. He joined the 4/8 Gorkha Rifles in 1960 and quit Army service in 1967 to play for Mafatlal (Mumbai). He holds the distinction of being the only player from Dehradun to be awarded Maharashtra's highest sporting honour, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Award, in 1973.
He was a regular member of the Indian football team in the mid-60s and early 70s. The 1970 Jakarta Asian Games is still fresh in the memory of Amar Bahadur. On the semi final, he recalls, " We were playing against Burma. Our opponents pumped in two goals in the first 15 minutes of the first half. We failed to recover from the early jolts and lost the match 2-0."
Bahadur was captain of the Maharashtra team in 1970, '72 and '74. In 1984, he said good-bye to the game. Amar presently lives in Mumbai but is all set to return here in 3-4 years.
First reported by Rau Gusain in Garhwal Post, Dehra Dun