New Delhi: The 'sleeping giant' woke up to a new dawn with the ISL putting Indian football on the global map, but the national team continued to paint a grim picture, plummeting to its worst-ever rankings in an eventful year for the sport.
The national team's prolonged decline got buried under the intense hype over what turned out to be a fairly successful inaugural Indian Super League, which was graced by former stars such as Alessandro Del Piero, David Trezeguet, Robert Pires, Marco Materrazi, Luis Garcia and Nicolas Anelka, among others.
Seen for over two months on the dugout was Zico, a football legend in his own right not just in Brazil but the world over.
Goa FC did reach the semifinals of ISL but what was more important for the side's players was that they were under the tutelage of Zico for over two months, something that would surely benefit them in near future.
Besides the franchise-based tournament, a model based on cricket's popular Indian Premier League, bagging the 2017 Under-17 World Cup was another silver lining this year for the success-starved nation that is struggling at 171 in FIFA rankings.
In January, India were ranked 156th and by the end of year, they dropped 15 places, the never-ending spate of reverses leaving coach Wim Koevermans so frustrated that the Dutchman decided not to continue in the hot seat.
Another one from the Netherlands, Robb Bann, has also quit from the post of technical director. A replacement is awaited with Stephen Constantine emerging as the front-runner for his second spell as India coach. ISL franchise NorthEast United's coach Rickie Herbert's name is also doing the rounds.
If the lack of enough international friendlies is one of the reasons for the national team's decline, the Indians failed to perform the few times they played, most prominent among them being the defeat to Pakistan.