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This year in Indian football: remembering the 5 most memorable moments of 2015

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 3:13 IST

It has been a thoroughly depressing year for Indian football fans. With the national team losing five of the six 2nd round World Cup qualifying games so far, including an embarrassing 2-1 loss to minnows Guam, the negatives have outnumbered the positives this year.

To make matters worse, three I-League clubs, Bharat FC, Pune FC and Royal Wahingdoh, pulled out from the top-flight this year, sparking a crisis in the domestic game.

However, not everything has been gloomy for Indian football this year. There are quite a few memorable moments from the last 12 months. Here is a look, in chronological order, at five of them:

Chhetri's goals take India to the 2nd round of World Cup qualifiers (March)
Sunil Chhetri. Photo: Twitter/IndiaInSports

Photo: Twitter

It was Stephen Constantine's first game in charge of the Indian national team since returning for a second stint. With India facing the possibility of being knocked out from the first qualifying round, Sunil Chhetri scored a brace in the home leg against Nepal to calm down the nerves.

The Blue Tigers played out a goalless draw in Kathmandu following the 2-0 home win to ensure progression to the next round of the qualifiers.

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu creates history in Europe (April)
Gurpreet Singh. Photo: Twitter/GurpreetGK

Photo: Twitter

Punjab-born Gurpreet Singh Sandhu created history on 22 April, 2015, when he became the first Indian to play a competitive game for a top-flight European football club.

Gurpreet, who had signed for Norwegian outfit Stabaek in August 2014, started in the club's cup game against Runar and managed to keep a clean sheet in the game, which Stabaek won 6-0.

The goalkeeper later went on to make his international debut for India in a 3-0 defeat to Iran at the World Cup qualifiers.

Bello Rasaq brings I-League title to Kolkata with last-gasp header (May)
Mohun Bagan. Photo: Twitter/ILeagueOfficial

Photo: Twitter

It was arguably the best season of the I-League in the history of the competition. With the top 2 in the table, Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC, meeting on the final day, there couldn't have possibly been a better end to the season.

To add to the drama, Bagan, chasing their first league title in 13 years, trailed Bengaluru by a goal with just minutes to go. It was then that defender Bello Rasaq headed in the equaliser for the Kolkata-based side to ensure them the title. It isn't a moment Bengaluru fans would like to remember, but the I-League definitely profited from the thrilling end to the season.

Indian trio of Bembem, Bala and Ashalata win women's national title in Maldives (June)
Bembem, Ashalata, Bala. Photo: Facebook/Indian Football Team

Photo: Facebook/Indian Football Team

Maldivian club New Radiant SC pulled off a coup when they signed the Indian trio of Bala Devi, Bembem Devi and Ashalata Devi ahead of the national women's league in May. The three footballers from Manipur dominated the proceedings as New Radiant went on to win the title with a 100 per cent win record.

Bala Devi, who was declared the Women's Player of the Year by AIFF recently, emerged as the best player of the tournament, scoring an astonishing 25 goals in 7 games.

Aditi Chauhan becomes a 'Hammer' (August)
Aditi Chauhan. Photo: Keith Gillard

Photo: Keith Gillard

Indian women's national team goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan created history on 16 August, 2015, when she became the first Indian female citizen to play for an European football club. Aditi featured in West Ham Ladies' 5-0 defeat at the hands of Coventry United to achieve the feat.

However, despite the heavy defeat in her debut, Aditi, over the last few months, has kept a regular place in the West Ham first team. She also recently went on to win the 'Woman in Football' award at the 3rd Asian Football Awards in London.

First published: 30 December 2015, 7:39 IST