The Indian National Football Team achieved its best-ever FIFA Ranking since February 1996 as they were ranked 96 in the July FIFA Rankings released earlier today (July 6, 2017). In the process, India are currently placed 12th in AFC.
India’s best-ever FIFA Ranking till date stays 94 which was attained in February 1996 while 99 stayed India’s second-best FIFA Ranking which was also achieved in November 1993.
Indian Football and the National Team have been on an upsurge with a string of good results leading to a climb of 77 places in FIFA Rankings over the last two years. The Team has now won 13 of their last 15 matches and are unbeaten in the last 8 matches (including the unofficial match against Bhutan).
India were ranked 171 when Constantine took over as National Coach for the second time in February 2015 and slipped further to 173 in March 2015 in the FIFA ladder even before Constantine could have his first game in charge against Nepal, which India eventually won 2-0 on aggregate.
Talking after the ranking, Constantine said, “There is always the next game which comes to your mind. So it’s not always possible to enjoy the moment. That’s how life is as you are always trying to get better. People may be tempted to go crazy with the recent rise in Rankings and the results, but we cannot get carried away.”
The Englishman continued, “I was here some ten years prior and at that time no one knew me. I have always had an emotional attachment with India. Having said that, 2015 was the first year after the Indian Super League was launched. I could foresee a change coming as Indian Football had itself decided that it needed to change. I felt that I could help them go forward. Luckily, Praful Patel also thought the same.”
Congratulating the Team, AIFF President Praful Patel said: “It’s a giant leap of faith for Indian Football. Two years back, we were 173 and now we have reached our second best FIFA Ranking ever. The leap signifies the potential of Indian Football. Congratulations to the National Team boys, the Coach, the staff and all in AIFF.”
Kushal Das, General Secretary, All India Football Federation (AIFF), stated: “This comes as a huge boost ahead of our next AFC Asian Cup qualifying match against Macau on September 5, 2017. Hats off to the Team for giving it their all in achieving this milestone. Qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup 2019 stays our top priority.”
INDIA FOOTBALL | THE JOURNEY SO FAR | FIFA RANKING
National Coach Stephen Constantine stated: “When I took over, I had mentioned that my target was to bring India below 100. I am happy to have played a small part in this process. Kudos to the boys, the staff and a big thank you to my colleagues in AIFF for supporting us all throughout. I also need to thank Mr. Patel and Mr. Das for their trust in allowing me to do things in the manner I wanted.”
“But the present FIFA spot doesn’t mean that we have achieved much. We need to stay focused on the upcoming challenges.”
A qualification spot in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 is what the AIFF aims at this moment. That would be India’s second AFC Asian Cup stint in 8 years, the last being in Doha in 2011.