The country has hosted some very prestigious football competitions in the past.

India is a developing country when it comes to football. We are still in a budding stage and have a long way to go in terms of holding international competitions. However, football fans have seen the hosting of important tournaments in years past. 

The improvement in infrastructure has allowed India to bid for high-level tournaments and invite stronger teams. From the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup to the AFC Champions League and more, the level of football has seen a spike. 

Here are the top five tournaments that India has hosted in the past:

5. AFC Challenge Cup in 2008

India hosted the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) organized AFC Challenge Cup in 2008. The games were played from 30 July to 13 August. India got the hosting rights after Chinese Taipei, Thailand and Philippines failed to do so. The participation in the tournament was limited to members of the emerging nations class of the AFC. 

India stood with teams like Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan in Group A. They reached the semi-finals and beat Myanmar to face Tajikistan in the final. The Blue Tigers won the tournament and managed to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup in 2011, for the first-time since 1984.

4. Intercontinental Cup in 2018

Sunil Chhetri hoists the Intercontinental Cup aloft

All India Football Federation (AIFF) organized the Intercontinental Cup in 2018 as a way to prepare for the upcoming AFC Asian Cup in 2019. The invitational tournament saw the likes of Kenya, Chinese Taipei and New Zealand play against India.

India and Kenya advanced to the final after finishing the group standings in the top two places. The Blue Tigers emerged victorious against Kenya by a 2-0 scoreline, as Sunil Chhetri scored a brace. The skipper also finished as the top scorer in the tournament with eight goals.

3. Football at the 1982 Asian Games

New Delhi hosted the Asian Games of 1982. Football was one and still is one of the eligible sports, where participating countries can win a medal. The best of Asian football in that era took part in the Asian Games. 

The total number of participants stood at 16, who were divided into four groups of four teams each. India managed to qualify from their group which included the likes of  China, Malaysia and Bangladesh. However, Saudi Arabia eliminated India in the quarterfinals. Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia won the gold, silver and bronze respectively.

2. AFC Champions League group stages in 2021

India is now hosting the AFC Champions League group stage. FC Goa are one of the teams that are participating in the tournament. The Indian Super League outfit became the first-ever Indian club to contest in the prestigious tournament that houses the best of the best in Asian club football.

The Gaurs have fallen in the same group with the likes of Persepolis FC, Al Wahda and Al-Rayyan. Juan Ferrando’s men drew their first two games and lost the third to Persepolis. Edu Bedia became the first player to score in the AFC Champions League for an Indian club, when he scored in the 2-1 defeat against Persepolis.

1. FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017

England won the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup

The 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup was organized in India. The best players from the best teams under the age of 17 participated in the tournament. India also participated as hosts. The youngsters of the country had huge expectations on their shoulders, as they were grouped against the likes of Ghana, Colombia and the United States.

India lost all three of their matches and crashed out in the group stages. However, India’s Jeakson Singh scored the country’s first-ever goal at a World Cup with a towering header in a 1-2 defeat to Colombia. England U-17s won the tournament.

India has never hosted a bigger football tournament than this in its history.

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