The competition witnessed some amazing milestones created this year.
The I-League drew the curtains upon its 2020-21 season last weekend with Gokulam Kerala lifting their first title. Coming only fourth in the first phase of the campaign, the Malabarians mounted a brilliant title challenge and outperformed Churchill Brothers narrowly. The two sides finished level on points, but Gokulam took home the prize courtesy of a better goal difference.
NEROCA FC ended up getting relegated to the Second Division League, while the season’s top scorer was from neither of the top two sides. As the dust begins to settle on another memorable year in the I-League, we look back upon the three biggest records scripted along the way.
3. Bidyashagar Singh becomes first Indian to net hat-tricks in consecutive games
Little was known about Bidyashagar Singh when he signed for TRAU in July last year. But by the end of this season, he was the name on everyone’s lips. The 23-year-old finished as I-League 2020-21 top scorer with 12 goals, including two hat-tricks.
What’s special about them is he managed to pull them off in consecutive matches, making him the first Indian player to accomplish the feat.
He stunned newly-promoted Mohammedan Sporting with his first treble of the season on March 5 and then repeated the trick against Real Kashmir just five days later by scoring all three of his side’s goals.
2. Bidyashagar Singh becomes only the fourth Indian to win Golden Boot
Bidyashagar Singh’s blistering scoring exploits earned him the coveted I-League Golden Boot, as the TRAU striker finished as this season’s most prolific. With 12 strikes, he managed to beat Churchill Brothers star Luka Majcen and Gokulam Kerala’s Denny Antwi (both on 11 goals) narrowly for the prize.
But more importantly, Singh became just the fourth Indian player to win it, after Bhaichung Bhutia, Raman Vijayan, and Sunil Chhetri. Indeed an elite company to be in! In the I-League era though, he’s the second domestic footballer after only Chhetri to get his mitts on the boot.
1. Komron Tursunov scores fastest-ever I-League goal
Churchill Brothers saw off a memorable campaign in the I-League, finishing as runners-up to Gokulam Kerala only by a whisker. But the main highlight of their season was Komron Tursunov’s historic goal. The Tajikistan striker netted within just nine seconds of the kick-off in a game against Real Kashmir, I-League’s fastest-ever in history!
Helder Lobato’s long ball was intercepted by Kashmir’s Haroon Amiri, but it then reached Tursunov, who took a touch and smashed home a venomous strike from the edge of the box. Despite a bright start, the talisman could only secure a 1-1 draw eventually, but Tursunov etched his name forever in the I-League history books.
He scored just four seconds earlier than the previous record by Katsumi Yusa, ironically against Churchill Brothers, during the 2018-19 season of the competition. In fact, the midfielder’s goal compares to some of the fastest goals ever scored, with that of the English Premier League coming after only 7.69 seconds and Italian Serie A’s at just six.