India's captain Sunil Chhetri (C) greets his team's supporters after winning the Hero Intercontinental Cup football match between India and Kenya, in Mumbai, on June 4, 2018. - India's football international against Kenya on Monday sold out in hours following captain Sunil Chhetri's emotional plea for fans to support the team after barely 2,500 people turned up to watch them play last week. (Photo by PUNIT PARANJPE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images)

Top 5 Moments of Indian Football in 2018

2018 was an interesting year for Indian football, with a few great highs and some sad lows. 


The I-League and Indian Super League moved to slightly longer schedules, a welcome step, while the national team produced a few good results to prepare themselves for the upcoming Asian Cup. 


There were also many lows, like the Indian team's inability to win the SAFF Cup, the Gourav Mukhi age fraud and Star Sports' decision to restrict broadcast of the I-League to a select few matches. 


As we move into 2019 and get ready for the Asian Cup, here's a look back at the best moments for Indian football in 2018:

5. India U-20 Defeating Argentina U-20

The Indian U-20 team defeated Argentina's U-20 team in the COTIF Cup, in a match that was essentially a dead rubber. Despite the Argentinians resting many of their main players, they were a team full of quality and much superior to the Indians. 


Yet, Floyd Pinto's side were able to secure the win thanks to goals from Deepak Tangri and Anwar Ali. Though the Argentines pulled one goal back, 10-man India held on, after Aniket Jadhav was sent off early in the second half.

4. India Winning the Intercontinental Cup

Granted, India were playing teams weaker than them in the Intercontinental Cup in New Zealand, Chinese Taipei and Kenya, but it was an important tournament win nonetheless as they continued to get match practice to enable them to get ready for the Asian Cup. 


The Blue Tigers defeated Kenya 2-0 in the final thanks to a double from Sunil Chhetri. Those goals scored by him saw him get past Lionel Messi to become the second highest active international goalscorer with 65 goals. Messi levelled things up by scoring in the World Cup. 

3. The Emergence of Real Kashmir

The I-League's policy of allowing clubs from all over India a shot at participation gave us the country's first club from Kashmir to feature prominently. Real Kashmir battled through I-League second division to make it through to the top division under the tutelage of David Robertson. 


After winning the second division, they are now dazzling fans in the I-League as they have risen to second position in the standings, only three points behind leaders Chennai City FC. 


With football becoming more popular in the valley, the emergence of talented players from the area has now begun, with Danish Farooq now a household name among football fans in the country. 

2. India's Gutsy 0-0 Draw With China

India' most important international match of 2018 was against China in Suzhou as the Blue Tigers faced Marcelo Lippi's side for the first time in 21 years in active international competition. 


Lippi's side piled on the pressure and created multiple chances to score, even hitting the woodwork on a couple of occasions. However, a strong showing from Gurpreet Singh Sandhu in goal and the Indian defence helped them secure a creditable 0-0 draw. 


The Indians even had a couple of good chances to score, through Sunil Chhetri and Pritam Kotal, but they were unable to put the ball in the back of the net. 

1. Minerva Punjab Winning the I-League

A year after Aizawl FC stunned everyone by winning the I-League, Minerva Punjab got their hands on the trophy after a campaign in which they overcame the traditional giants of Indian football in East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. 


Led by their maverick owner Ranjit Bajaj, the team from Punjab recruited smartly to assemble a group of hard-working young Indian talent and eager to prove themselves foreign players. 


The result was that they exhibited great consistency and composure to secure the title, pipping NEROCA FC by three points. 

Looking at the Five Best Moments of Indian Football in 2018