There have been some remarkable and forgettable events that took place in 2020 …
From disappointment over the cancellation of several leagues to the possibility of getting the Premier League back on track, 2020 has been a difficult year for men’s football in India.
Fortunately for the 2019-20 season of Indian Super League (ISL), the final took place a week before the country’s lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic and ATK pocketed his third trophy at the expense of Chennaiyin. But football as a whole has been affected due to the unforeseen situation in the country.
Although the ISL ended in March, there was still the question I-League which was ultimately cut short after 16 games. Mohun Bagan, who had an unassailable lead in the standings, were announced as champions.
It was sad news for young footballers like the All India The Football Federation (AIFF) was forced to cancel all tournaments by age category as it was not deemed safe to host them as India battled Covid-19.
However, it was not all darkness for Indian men’s football as months later the players returned to action with the I-League qualifiers which ended up being the first sporting action in the country. since the outbreak of the pandemic. With strict security protocols and bio-secure bubbles in place, the Indian FA held qualifying for the I-League Second Division in a centralized location in Kolkata.
Less than two months later, the 2020-21 Indian Super League season kicked off in Goa, once again with teams complying with COVID-19 guidelines established by league authorities in accordance with India’s Ministry of Health. The biggest losers, however, have been the supporters as they have had to stay home and consume football digitally as matches go behind closed doors due to the circumstances.
It wasn’t just on the pitch where there were mixed emotions. Apart from that, Indian soccer has bid farewell to gaming legends PK Banerjee, Chuni Goswami and Nikhil Nundy among others. the AFC Cup 2020 had to be canceled and the AFC U-16 Championship had to be postponed to 2021, keeping the safety of stakeholders in mind.
Indian football, on the other hand, witnessed a historic deal when Calcutta giants and I-League champions Mohun Bagan and ISL ATK champions close a merger. The result was a new entity named ATK Mohun Bagan which mainly retained the colors and essence of sailors and ATK players.
Arguably the biggest “ event ” of the year came a few months later when East Bengal announced its entry into the ISL. The league’s profile was immediately boosted and the ISL’s inaugural Kolkata Derby was held behind closed doors in Goa in November. The Red and Golds named elder Liverpool forward Robbie Fowler as head coach.
For most of the year, the Indian national team was ranked 108th in the FIFA rankings, but they will sign the 104th best team in the world. Igor Stimac’s men were to welcome Qatar and Afghanistan in the AFC group stages Asian Cup and the FIFA joint qualifiers in March. However, amid the coronavirus pandemic, meetings initially postponed to October are now expected to take place in March and June 2021.
There have been some remarkable events in Indian football this year. There were also a few forgettable ones. But the promises of 2021 will surely make up for the disappointments of 2020.