Indian clubs have sprung a surprise on rare occasions in the Asian continental competitions.
Indian football clubs have had a history of underperforming at the continental level. They have mostly tasted defeat while facing Asian oppositions. Whether it is the AFC Champions League preliminary rounds or AFC Cup fixtures, there have been few positives to take.
Indian Super League outfit FC Goa will hope to change things when they play their ACL group stage matches in a couple of weeks. Bengaluru FC will also contest in the AFC Cup preliminary rounds, while ATK Mohun Bagan will join the competition at the group stage.
There have been a few occasions when Indian football clubs have shocked their Asian opponents. Between Dempo SC’s semi-final appearance to Bengaluru FC’s final appearance in the AFC Cup, there have been a few positive results to look back at.
Here are the five occasions where Indian teams shocked their Asian opponents in the past:
1. Dempo SC 6-1 Merv Mary (2006)
In 2006, India’s challenge at the AFC Cup was one to forget. Dempo, the winners of the National Football League (NFL) and Mahindra United (Federation Cup) both represented India and were knocked out from the group stages. The Goan side however went out with a bang.
Grouped with Al Nasr and Merv Mary, Dempo only secured one win. They defeated Merv Mary of Turkmenistan by a scoreline of 6-1, but it was not enough to qualify into the knockout phase. Johnny D’Cruz, Samir Naik, Clifford Miranda (2) and Robert Mendes Silva (2) were the scorers on the day for the Indian outfit.
2. Home United 3-4 Dempo SC (2008)
In 2008, Dempo reached the semi-final of the AFC Cup. Ranti Martins had scored eight goals in the group stages itself, guiding them to the knockout rounds. They played the second leg of their quarterfinal game against Home United, now known as Lion City Sailors FC.
The first leg had ended in a 1-1 draw. Mboyo Iyomi, Beto (2) and Climax Lawrence scored for the Indian outfit, helping them to secure a semi-final berth thanks to away goal rules.
3. East Bengal 1-0 Semen Padang (2013)
East Bengal reached the semi-final of the AFC Cup in 2013, becoming only the second Indian football club to do so after Dempo. Their run to the semi-final was impressive. The Red & Gold Brigade came up against Semen Padang of Indonesia in the quarterfinal.
Their first leg 1-0 victory over Semen Padang was crucial in helping them book a place in the next round. The second- eg saw them hold the opposition by a 1-1 scoreline as they went through 2-1 on aggregate.
4. Pune FC 2-0 Kitchee FC (2014)
Pune FC made their one and only appearance in Asian continental competition in 2014. After getting knocked out of the AFC Champions League qualifying playoff match against Hanoi FC, they entered the AFC Cup group stages.
Despite finishing last in the group, they bowed out with an impressive 2-0 victory over Hong Kong’s Kitchee FC. The scorer of both the goals on the day was Zohmingliana Ralte.
5. Bengaluru FC 3-1 Johor Darul Ta’zim (2016)
Bengaluru FC created history in 2016, during perhaps the most iconic continental run by an Indian outfit. The Blues reached the final of the AFC Cup and became the first Indian football club to do so. On their road to the final, BFC clashed against Johor FC, the defending champions of the competition.
Bengaluru came away 4-2 victors on aggregate, following a sensational 3-1 victory in the second-leg. The game saw Sunil Chhetri score two goals and a third was added by veteran centre-back Juanan. BFC narrowly lost by a solitary goal in the final against Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya of Iraq.