On D-Day of July 31, 1948, India faces France. Their chunky socks have been cut to the ankle and bare feet tied to protect and provide grip. Taj Mohammad wore the boots given to him, but he was the exception. Sailen Manna, the star of the team, did not wear one. A tie match came when France, in the 30th minute of the proceedings, broke the deadlock as René Courbin put one in front of the Indian goalkeeper. France led 1-0.
Just before half-time, India received a penalty. But Sailen Manna’s attack sailed just over the crossbars. In the second half, India started their barrage of counterattacks, when Ahmad Khan and Vajravelu combined to find an opening in the French defense and passed the ball to Sarangapani Raman. Raman was right in scoring India’s equalizer in the 70th minute. He was India’s first independent international goalscorer.
India had a chance to take the lead with another penalty, but Mahabir Prasad’s shot was brilliantly saved by the French keeper.
Tied, one minute from the end of the final whistle, Frenchman René Persillon scored a goal to give France a 2-1 victory and a place in the quarter-finals.
India received a lot of praise for its performance at the 1948 Olympics. However, the two penalties missed by Manna and Prasad could have changed the course of Indian football history.