Maidaan: When Syed Abdul Rahim Faced Favoritism Allegations After Selecting His Son & Players From Hyderabad
Ajay Devgn Plays Syed Abdul Rahim In Maidaan (Photo Credit – Youtube/Wikipedia)

Ajay Devgn‘s Maidaan has beautifully celebrated another unsung hero of the nation – Sir Syed Abdul Rahim. He was the football coach whose training earned us gold medals in the Asian Games twice – in 1951 (Delhi) and 1962 (Jakarta). It was under his mentorship that the Indian National Football team reached the semi-finals of the Summer Olympics.

In the 1956 Summer Olympics held in Melbourne, India was the first Asian country to reach the Semi-Finals in football. He was the most successful coach of the National Football Team of India.

However, Syed Abdul Rahim’s career and coaching were also put under scanner before the 1962 Asian Games when his selection for the National Team was accused of being biased and preferential.

In the finals of the Asian Games 1962, the football coach dropped Pradyut Barman in favor of Peter Thangaraj, and this remains India’s biggest football debate ever. Barman belonged to Calcutta and used to play for Eastern Railways and Mohan Bagan in domestic tournaments.

Syed Abdul Rahim’s favoritism for Hyderabad players could also have been a classic Calcutta VS Hyderabad thing, but Barman undoubtedly played exceptionally well in the Semi-Finals of the 1962 Asian Games, as per reports. There was no reason for the goalkeeper to be dropped in the finals.

In one of his interviews 40 years after the incident in 2003, Burman narrated the entire incident and what happened on the day of the finals. Reports suggest that Thangaraj, who belonged to Hyderabad, had been down with the flu since he arrived in Jakarta. When their health was inquired about on the day of the finals, both Barman replied positively and Thangaraj negatively. However, the final 11 did not include Barman.

As quoted by Scroll, Pradyut Barman talked about Syed Abdul Rahim in an interview in 2003, recalling that day and narrating, “I was devastated. The coach knew he had done an injustice to me. While returning from Jakarta, he bought me a wristwatch in Singapore and said: ‘Jeete raho beta.’ I understood and did not utter a word.”

Rahim was also criticized for selecting his son, SS Hakim, to the national team for the 1960 Rome Olympics. The football coach passed away in 1963, a year after the Jakarta Asian Games.

Coming to Maidaan, the film stars Ajay Devgn, Priyamani, and Gajraj Rao. It is helmed by Amit Sharma and produced by Boney Kapoor.

For more such throwbacks, stay tuned to Koimoi.

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