Friendlies need of the hour after mixed year

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SummarySunil Chhetri, Syed Rahim Nabi were two players who captured imagination of fans over the year.

From triumph to tribulation, Indian football experienced the good, bad and ugly in equal measure in 2012, but the event that undoubtedly hogged the limelight was the visit by a legendary club from the faraway Bavarian region in Germany.

If completing a hat-trick of Nehru Cup title wins at home was a positive development, the disastrous campaign in the AFC Challenge Cup in Nepal let the fans down.

Ugly was the violence-ridden I-League derby between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, which had to be called off after the latter refused to play citing security reasons. Mohun Bagan could be slapped with a ban, but a decision is awaited.

The future, though, augurs well given the under-22 side's showing in the AFC Championship qualifying tournament, in which it defeated Lebanon and Turkmenistan apart from drawing UAE.

It wasn't a good beginning for the senior team as it endured a spate of defeats in the AFC tournament, losing all their matches.

Lack of international friendlies on FIFA dates did not help India's cause as they slipped to 169 in September -- their lowest-ever rankings in recent years. Stress should be given on organising more international friendlies on FIFA dates in order to help India improve their rankings.

The Nehru Cup triumph was commendable, but it did not help as far as improvement in rankings was concerned. The matches were not played on FIFA dates and the team sent by Cameroon was a second-string one. The one Syria fielded, was also not full-strength either.

As far as individuals were concerned, Sunil Chhetri and Syed Rahim Nabi were the two players who captured the imagination of the fans over the last 12 months.

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