The Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri surpassed football legend Pele in terms of international goals. Indian football did not get any major success in the year 2021. The team, trying to restore its lost glory of the fifties and sixties, kept waiting for the moment which could change the condition and direction of this game in the country.
India won the SAFF Championship for a record eighth time but a win in a regional tournament isn’t going to change much. Winning against big teams is a must. There were such occasions too but India had to be content with a draw due to the loss of momentum at these moments.
In the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers, India played four draws in eight matches, lost three, and won just one for a total of seven points. The Indian team scored six goals and lost seven and could not once again cross the second round hurdle. India finished third behind Qatar and Oman in Group E of the qualifiers. They still have a chance of qualification through the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.
This year Sunil Chhetri surpassed Pele to score the first goal in the SAFF Championship against Nepal. He now has 80 goals in international football and equals Lionel Messi. India drew with Bangladesh and drew a goalless draw with Sri Lanka, which was widely criticized. The Indian team however won the football tournament by alerting in time and making a comeback. This also extended the tenure of head coach Igor Stimac by a year.
The women’s football team toured South America and played a match against a legendary team like Brazil. The Indian women’s team, which was preparing for the AFC Asian Cup and the Under-17 FIFA World Cup hosted by them next year, lost 11 out of 14 matches. In the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, India has been clubbed with Iran, Chinese Taipei and China. This year Indian Super League team FC Goa created history by playing AFC Champions League. It is the first Indian club to do this feat.