101- Indian National Football Team Achieves its Highest Ranking in Two Decades
In a near-historic milestone for football in India, the Indian National Football Team has accomplished its highest ever position in the new millennium. For the first time in 18 years, the national team has leapfrogged to #101 in the recently published Federation International de Football Association (FIFA) Rankings March 2017.
Owing to a great run in recent times, The Blue Tigers have accumulated a total of 331 points propelling them 31 places above their previous ranking (132) on the FIFA ladder. The rise in rankings has seen the Stephen Constantine-managed team soar above the Democratic Peoples Republic (DPR) of Korea, Thailand, Latvia, Jordan, and Iraq to name a few. In fact, India is tied on points with Estonia, Lithuania, and Nicaragua, thus raising India’s ranking to 11th in Asia – just below China and Qatar, and above regional heavyweights like Iraq, North Korea, Oman and Jordan.
The Indian team, governed by the All India Football Federation, was ranked 171 when Stephen Constantine took over the national team’s reign from Wim Koevermans for the second time in February 2015. During the transition period, the team had slipped further to 173 in March 2015 on the FIFA ladder.
Here’s what Constantine had to say about the achievement, “Bringing in new blood and creating competition for places in the team has been a process, and I’m pleased we are moving in the right direction. It’s been a total team effort. Unless Mr. Patel (AIFF President Praful Patel) and Mr. Das (AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das) allowed me to do the things and the manner I wanted it to be done, this won’t have been possible ever. I also need to thank the support staff for their commitment for the team.”
National Team Captain Sunil Chettri however is celebrating this milestone with caution. When asked about his views on India’s ranking improving, Chhetri said, “Rankings, while important, are not a definite yardstick of how good or bad you are as a team. There were so many days when I felt we were a lot better than what our rankings suggested. The most important thing is the effort it will take to remain here.”
The Blue Tigers will look towards breaking into the world top 100, starting with the fixture against Lebanon in an International friendly on home ground, come 7th June. Following that the team will be hosting the Kyrgyz Republic on 13th June in their next AFC Asian Cup qualifier match.