Former India football coach Rustam Akramov no more
Former football coach Rustam Akramov, who took the Indian football team to its highest-ever Fifa rankings, passed away at his native place in Uzbekistan. He was 73.
The legendary Uzbek coach died on February 15, according to the official website of the National Olympic Committee of Uzbekistan. During his career, he made a huge contribution to the development of Uzbek and former Soviet football. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) condoled his death. Akramov was in charge of the national team from 1995 to 1997.
During Akramov’s tenure with the Indian team he gave Bhaichung Bhutia his international debut in a Nehru Gold Cup match against Thailand in March 1995. He played Carlton Chapman, till then known as right winger, as a left back and was a huge fan of Basudeb Mondal. “Basu is our Nelson Mandela,” Akramov used to say. The Indian football team during Akramov’s tenure had great players like IM Vijayan, Jo Paul Ancheri, Chapman, Bruno Coutinho, Mondal and a young Bhaichung.
The Akramov-coached Indian team rose to 94th in the February 1996 Fifa rankings — its highest ever. The team came close to this achievement in 2017 and 2018 when it rose to 96th. During his two-year tenure from 1992-1994, the Uzbek national team won the Hiroshima Asian Games (1994) and the Central Asian Championship.