The beautiful game of football has a rich history and Indian football has many forgotten stories to tell. One of those stories is the visit of Swiss side FC Zürich to India in 1985.
We have seen many foreign clubs doing their bit in India in the recent years and teams like German giants FC Bayern Munich are very active in their aim to promote football and the club as brand in the sub-continent. Others like EPL sides Manchester United, Liverpool FC, Queens Park Rangers or Spanish giants FC Barcelona run their football clinics and competitions around the country.
The young generation of football fans in India remember the matches like the Audi Football Summit when the Indian national team faced Bayern Munich at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium or the Argentina v Venezuela at the Saltlake Stadium in Kolkata.
But many fans don’t know that India has hosted many other international football teams in the long history of the game. We have seen clubs such as Dutch outfit PSV Eindhoven (1991), Germany’s VfL Bochum (1985/86 winter) or New York Cosmos with legendary Pelé (1977) in India amongst others.
The visit of Switzerland’s FC Zürich is one of the less told stories. The Swiss team toured Asia in February 1985 and they played matches in Qatar, Japan and in India. FCZ started their tour with a 2-1 win against Qatar SC before suffering a 1-2 loss against Qatar’s national team. They continued their journey to Japan, where they were held by the Japanese national team to a goalless draw at the Nishigaoka Soccer Stadium in Tokyo and registered a 4-1 win against the Japanese University national team.
The Zürich team featuring players such as Oceania’s Footballer of the Century Wynton Rufer, FCZ legend Urs Fischer and German midfielder Wolfgang Kraus touched down in Mumbai for their last stop of their Asian Tour. The Swiss side was coached by renowned gaffer Václav Ježek, who was in charge of the Czechoslovakia national football team which won the 1976 UEFA European Championships in an dramatic penalty shoot-out against West Germany at the Crvena Zvezda Stadium in Belgrade.
FCZ had arranged an exhibition match against the Maharashtra State Team on February 21, 1985 and the team was looking forward to end their Asian Tour on a high. The visitors were very confident ahead of the match but coach Ježek didn’t underestimate the Maharashtra State Team and fielded his best team.
The Maharashtra State Team conceded an early goal when Heinz Lüdi gave FCZ the lead ten minutes into the game. The hosts didn’t surrender after the early setback and they were able to keep the scoreline until the breather.
But Zürich was the expected superior team and they scored a second goal in the 60th minute as Roger Kundert found the back of the net. Jure Jerkovic increased the lead just three minutes later and Kundert scored his second goal of the match off a penalty kick in the 70th minute.
Markus Schneider scored the final goal of the match in the 74th minute to seal a convincing 5-0 win for the visitors at The Cooperage.
FC Zürich’s visit to India remains the only one by a Swiss team so far. There are sadly not too many records about their visit to Mumbai and many details will remain untold for future generations of Indian footbal fans. But I hope this feature story will help to reach out to the latest generation of new football fans in India and to bring them nearer to the rich history of Indian football. Feature stories like this one or “The Day when Lukas Podolski scored against India” [+ read more] or even “Down the Memory Lane: The last international match in Kerala” [+ read more] are just a few forgotten stories in the long history of football in the sub-continent.
It is great to see Indians cheering for clubs like FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United and to know that they are aware of all the trivial facts of these clubs and the leagues. But a football fan should also know the facts about the beautiful game in his very own backyard. There is nothing better than home, sweet home…