ESPN India Awards 2017: Who will win Team of the Year?

ESPN.in Awards: Team of the year (2:23)

Nominees for Team of the year 2017. (2:23)

From I-League champions Aizawl FC to Pro Kabaddi League winners Patna Pirates, all feature in ESPN India's nominations for the Team of the Year. Who will take away the biggie?

Aizawl FC

What they did in 2017

Aizawl weren't even supposed to be in the I-League for 2017, reinstated post-relegation due to a pullout from the 2016-17 season, primarily by Goan clubs. They would then go on to become the first north-eastern team to win the I-League title, with a team that operated on one of the lowest budgets. They turned Aizawl into a virtual fortress, winning eight of nine matches played there, and holding reigning champions Bengaluru in the other game.

In their own words

"It was not realistic but I was thinking one year, two years, three, four, five, six... and then Alfred [Liberian forward Alfred Jaryan, who played as midfielder through the season] become the captain and I win."

- Khalid Jamil, the coach, joking with his captain about the improbable nature of their title run

Women's national hockey team

What they did in 2017

Going into the Asia Cup quarters, the Indian women's hockey team had half their job done: An assured World Cup berth thanks to South Africa's title win at the African Cup of Nations. So even if they didn't win the continental qualifier, nothing would change. But under new coach Harendra Singh, the Rani Rampal-led side beat China 5-4 in the shootout in the final. This was to be the Indian women's team's second Asia Cup win, the first coming in 2004.

In their own words

"World Cup kisi team ke khairat pe nahi, khud ke dum pe jaana chahiye (We should enter a World Cup not on the mercy of another team but on our own merit)."

- Captain Rani Rampal on the team's goal of qualifying for the World Cup by virtue of becoming Asian champions

Men's national football team

What they did in 2017

India were unbeaten in 2017, and started with a hard-fought 3-2 win in a friendly away to Cambodia. It was their first win in an international friendly since 2005, and they built on that to qualify for the Asian Cup in 2019 without losing a single game. That run included away wins in Myanmar and Macau and a 1-0 win over Kyrgyzstan at home. They had last qualified for the Asian Cup in 2011.

In their own words

"If not the best, this Indian team is surely one of the best Indian teams in history and the credit goes to all. Starting from the players to the supporting staff, it's the result of everyone's dedication and hard work."

- India coach Stephen Constantine

Indian men's compound archery team

What they did in 2017

India won gold in the men's compound team event at the Shanghai Archery World Cup after defeating Colombia in the final. Abhishek Verma, Chinna Raju Srither and Amanjeet Singh combined to beat the Colombian team of Camilo Cardona, Daniel Munoz and Jose Carlos Ospina by a score of 226-221. This was the first time that India won gold in the compound team event at a World Cup.

In their own words

"Right now, our team is made up of three men with different experience but our training is showing we're doing well. We are all the same; we all talk, make decisions together no matter how long we've been shooting for or what we've achieved."

- Abhishek Verma.

Bengaluru FC

What they did in 2017

Bengaluru failed to defend their I-League title, but won the Federation Cup to keep up their record of winning at least one crown each season in Indian football. They lost many key players to the ISL draft after choosing to switch over to the franchise-based league, but within a month beat North Korean club April 25 3-0 to make their way to the last four of the AFC Cup, where they lost 3-2 on aggregate to Istiklol of Tajikistan.

In their own words

"When we lost the league and we had to play the Federation Cup, things weren't that great. People weren't thinking that we are going to go there and win it. There were some doubts, and we were just talking and we were thinking how will we not play AFC (Asian club competition). That is not something that should happen."

- Bengaluru captain Sunil Chhetri, on the main motivation behind the Federation Cup win.

Patna Pirates (Pro Kabaddi League)

What they did in 2017

Patna Pirates completed an unprecedented hat-trick of titles in the Pro Kabaddi League after defeating league-stage toppers Gujarat Fortunegiants in the final. Captain Pardeep Narwal led an inexperienced outfit from the front and was the highest scorer in the season with 369 points, with the vastly experienced Monu Goyat providing able support with 202 points.

In their own words

"I break my own records. Even in the future, only Pardeep will break Pardeep's records, no one else can."

- Pardeep Narwal on his record-breaking season.