Some of the points mentioned could be a huge boost for regional football across the country.
The Indian Football season is set to kick-off in a few weeks time and while the I-League and Indian Super League (ISL) might be months away, the Calcutta Football League (CFL) and some local leagues will begin soon. While club football might be taking a rest, the Indian U-16 team has been impressing in their preparations for the AFC U-16 Asian Championships.
With Indian football growing as a whole, there should be a few changes which would be appreciated by everyone and help things evolve as well. Here, we look at five such scenarios we’d like to see in the upcoming Indian season.
5. NorthEast United qualifying for ISL knockout stages
NorthEast United’s story in the ISL has been full of sorrow and despite showing glimpses of good form in each season, the Highlanders failed to show any sign of momentum and ended up in the bottom positions after every campaign.
It would be great to see them performing better next term and if they can show some consistency, then the lost fans will come back soon. A top-four finish after the league phase could be huge for the Highlanders, who are aiming to sign some talented players in order to perform better in the season ahead.
4. India qualifying for the FIFA U-17 World Cup again
Hosting the FIFA U-17 World Cup was a huge dboost for the growth of Indian football and certainly a step in the right direction. Not only that, but the gameplay from the U-17 team proved that if youth is moulded well, then the Colts could consistently qualify for such World Cups.
Bibiano Fernandes has done a terrific job with the U-16 team, who are in contention to qualify for the U-17 World Cup next year. India’s U-16 team is full of budding talents, who have proved their capability to fight against the toughest of opposition.
3. Gokulam Kerala follow in the footsteps of Aizawl and Minerva Punjab
The I-League has been the league of the underdogs in recent seasons, with teams like Aizawl and Minerva Punjab becoming champions in recent seasons. Despite playing only their second season in the top flight, these two teams dazzled everyone with their display and grinded their way to winning the title.
This is something a team like Gokulam Kerala can try and replicate this season and they look serious about going for the top. Gokulam have already made some important signings and changes to their system, that could make them dark-horses for the title.
2. East Bengal winning the I-League
East Bengal seem to be stuck in this artificially created paradox over the past few years and despite playing well, they just can’t seem to win the I-League title. They have won the CFL) for the past eight years now and desperately need a change to save them from eternal mockery.
the Red and Gold might compete in the I-League for the last time in the forthcoming season, which is why they must give their full efforts into trying to win the title. They seem to have a decent squad and are going to buy better players, as East Bengal look to move to the ISL with the satisfaction of having won the coveted I-League.
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1. India going deep in the AFC Asian Cup
India might have been put in a difficult group in the AFC Asian Cup, but an impressive outing in the Intercontinental Cup proved how the squad is getting better at playing with each other. The Blue Tigers look a more solid unit and can threaten anyone with their counter-attacks.
If the players can get motivated by Sunil Chhetri’s passion, we could see them perform well in their group. If India can qualify for the Round of 16, then the sky’s the limit for the Blue Tigers who will look to do their country proud and prove how far they’ve come in recent years.