Indian Football

Top 7 moments in Indian football in 2021

Amreen
Sunil Chhetri went past Pele's goal record in 2021
Sunil Chhetri went past Pele's goal record in 2021 / Matthew Ashton - AMA/GettyImages
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Indian football saw a number records set and broken in 2021; from Sunil Chhetri's accomplishment to the senior Indian men's team winning a record-extending eighth SAFF Championship title.

However, the team failed to progress in their bid to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and ended their campaign with four draws, three losses, and one win from eight games.

They scored six goals, conceded seven, and finished third behind Qatar and Oman in Group E, but earned a chance at qualification for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.

Here are the top five moments in Indian football in 2021:

1. Chhetri breaking Pele's record

Indian football captain, Sunil Chhetri, went past Pele's international goalscoring record and equalled Lionel Messi's, when he scored his side's opener, and his 80th goal, against Nepal in the SAFF Championships in October.

Pele, who led Brazil to three World Cup titles between 1958 and 1970, scored 77 goals while playing for the national team, and had his record overtaken by India's Chhetri.


2. India won 8th SAFF title

India extended their domination of the SAFF Championships thanks to goals from Chhetri, Suresh Singh, and Sahal Abdul Samad. The game also saw Chhetri equal Messi's goal-scoring record and break Pele's long-standing record. Igor Stimac also became the third foreign coach after Jiri Pesek (1993) and Stephen Constantine (2015) to clinch the title with the Indian team.


3. FC Goa become first ISL club to play in AFC Champions League

FC Goa became the first Indian Super League (ISL) club to participate in the group stages of the AFC Champions League this year. The Gaurs finished third in Group E, which comprised of Iran's Persepolis (group winners), UAE's Al Wahda (runners-up), and Qatar's Al Rayyan.


4. Mumbai City FC win ISL

Mumbai City FC won their maiden ISL title in their debut season just one year after being taken over by the owners of Premier League giants, Manchester City. Bipin Singh scored a 90-minute winner to edge out three-time winners ATK Mohun Bagan 2-1 in the final. Sergio Lobera's side qualified for the AFC Champions League after finishing top of the table and became only the second team to complete the double by going on to win the four-team finals.


5. Gokulam Kerala FC win I-League on debut

Gokulam Kerala FC created history by becoming the first club from Kerala to win the I-League and qualify for the AFC Cup competition. They found themselves falling short of winning the league in the past few seasons, but finally managed to achieve the historic feat by beating Tiddim Road Athletic Union FC 4-1.


6. Manisha Kalyan scores India's first ever goal against Brazil

Indian women's footballer Manisha Kalyan made history by scoring Indian football team's first ever goal against Brazil in a clash in the senior team category.

No other Indian football team, men's or women's had ever achieved this feat.


7. Gokulam Kerala women's team played at the AFC Women's Club Championship for the first time ever

The Indian Women's League (IWL) champions Gokulam Kerala became the first ever women's team from the country to feature at the AFC Women's Club Championship this year.

They finished their campaign with a 3-1 win over FC Bunyodkor and ranked third in their group.


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