Sportskeeda continues to review the past year in Indian football and today we pay tribute to the three best Indian teams of 2012. And for this category we ask YOU, the readers to vote for the winner. The results will be announced on December 31st. While selecting the nominees, we have considered national teams of all age groups (men and women) and the club sides.
Dempo regained their I-League crown in 2012 as they lifted a record fifth title, registering the maximum points (57) and scoring the maximum goals (59) in I-League history. Although Ranti Martins, who scored 32 goals was their talisman, Dempo’s success can be attributed to great team work as despite spending very little, they were consistent throughout the season.
Armando Colaco’s side also won the Goa League title to secure a memorable double and have started the defence of those two trophies in fine fashion, as they are top of the I-League table and just one point behind the leaders with a game in hand in the Goa League. This has been achieved despite losing the services of Ranti to Prayag United, with Japanese recruit Ryuji Sueoka stepping up and performing consistently along with the same core of Indian players that have given the club so much success over the years. They also played some fine attacking football to reach the Federation Cup final but were beaten after extra time by East Bengal.
Off the field, there were also rumours that Shahrukh Khan is interested in buying stakes of the Goan club, which for once gave them nationwide publicity in the mainstream media, but that deal is yet to materialise.
Despite missing out on the I-League title once again, statistically, 2012 was a very successful year for the red-and-gold brigade as they won three major trophies and also embarked on a 21-game unbeaten run in all competitions. While the IFA Shield and Calcutta Football League (CFL) trophies were secured in the 2011-12 season, the Federation Cup was won at the start of this campaign with a come from behind victory over Dempo in the final.
East Bengal traditionally have always had a big squad and that has been a big factor behind their consistency, but the real star of their success has been coach Trevor Morgan who has been able to get the best out of a team full of big names and at the same time managed to convince the club officials to retain the same group of players, something which hasn’t been the case in previous years. Defensively, East Bengal have been impeccable this season and will also be participating in the AFC Cup next year for a record equalling seventh time.
India Women’s National Team
Our final nominee in this category is the world’s 52nd best women’s national team, who despite not getting the same facilities as their male counterparts at domestic or international level, managed to lift their second straight SAFF Cup crown in Sri Lanka in September. Back in 2010, our women’s team scored 40 goals in five matches and didn’t concede any to win the inaugural SAFF Championship in Bangladesh. They let in one goal this time but were dominant throughout, as they scored 33 goals to retain the regional trophy in style. The achievement was a complete team effort but Kamala Devi turned out to be the top scorer for India with seven goals.
While the men’s team had a preparatory camp in Dubai and played some international friendly matches before their disastrous AFC Challenge Cup campaign, our women’s team only had a camp at SAI sports complex in Kolkata and played against some local teams. Former Germany women’s team manager Monika Staab, on her recent visit to India, had claimed that our women’s team is capable of playing in the 2015 World Cup but the AIFF, despite previous assurances, are yet to plan any international exposure for them in 2013.
Hopefully, this deserving nomination will create more awareness about our women’s national team, who have once again made Indian football proud.