It is safe to say that India is the best team among their South Asian counterparts. This term of SAFF (South Asian Football Federation) Championship saw the Indian team go through to the final and win it with quite a distinction under the superb leadership of Sunil Chhetri. Indian captain has registered 5 goals including one in the final against Nepal making him the top scorer in the tournament. This has happened for Chhetri for the second time in the history of the SAFF championship. All of this and we have to contemplate that he is at 37 years now, and soon we will miss one of the greatest if not the greatest Indian Forward in the country’s history. Currently he sits jointly with one Lionel Messi at 5th spot in the chart of international top scorers with 80 goals. Incredible!!!
Pritam kotal of India finished top assist provider with 2 in the championship. All in all a dominating performance from the Indian squad to achieve the 8th championship for the country, highest since the inception of the tournament in 1993. With more than 65% average possession and more than 15 shots in an average throughout the tournament it’s evident that Indian Football is in a superlative position in South Asia. Although they have a long way to go if to challenge in the World Cup qualifiers and they are not competing anymore for this term, we have to assume things are going in a positive direction. Only thing to see now is how the national team can procure adequate replacements for legends like Sunil Chhetri for the future. This team is otherwise fresh with an extremely young midfield and a defense which is quite reliable.
Modern football has evolved a lot. Pace and strength has taken over subtle silky gameplay and India will need to improve on these fronts if ever to challenge for bigger things. The country of 1.5 billion has an enormous amount of football fans who would like to see their country compete for World Cup one day. It will only be possible with better infrastructure for football. We are hopeful as ISL (Indian Super League) keeps pushing for higher standards which is helpful for local player development. This season of ISL will kickoff on 19th of November when ATK Mohun bagan take on Kerala Blasters FC. Let the festivities begin.