Under the new coach Stephen Constantine, the Indian Football team made a massive leap of 26 places in the spot in the latest Fédération Internationale de Football Association rankings released on April 9.
After their first-round win over Nepal in the home leg, India is now placed at the 147th position from their previous low ranking of 173. Sharing the rewards in the away match, India has moved ahead into the second round of qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup. India now rests at the 24th rank in the continent among the 46 nations.
The Blue Tigers, as the team is popularly known, played only two matches in 2014 where Palestine defeated India at 3-2 and they drew with Bangladesh at 2-2. The Indian team shares its spectacular rise facade with the team of Bhutan, which was the former worst football team. Making a huge leap of 46 places, Bhutan currently ranks 163 in the world rankings.
The Indian Football team is guaranteed to play 10 matches- 8 this year and 2 next year, following their progress to the second round of the above mentioned qualifiers. If the Blue Tigers manage to win some of these matches, they may rise even higher up the rankings. Being at number 24, India will now be placed in the pot three draw that will take place in mid-April.
India had fallen to 173 mainly because they were not playing any international matches, while the others were. Wim Koevermans, the ex- Indian coach had also resigned following India’s defeat at the hands of Palestine. Apart from a few anomalies here and there, India has always managed to remain above its neighbours since the turn of the century. Today, with so much money being invested in Football and with India hosting the Under-17 2017 World Cup, the Indian fans can anticipate India’s rise in the FIFA rankings further.
The 2014 World Cup winners Germany remained first in the rankings followed by the runners-up Argentina. Belgium jumped over Colombia and is now standing third after their Euro 2016 qualifying wins over Cyprus and Israel last month. Brazil secured the fifth place after their extraordinary form under Dunga, winning 3-1 against France and 1-0 over Chile in the friendly international matches. France ranked at 11 and Italy at 13 dropped out of the top 10 with Switzerland (9th) and Spain (10th) entering the top 10.
“With India already qualifying for the 2017 Under-17 World Cup, there is need for grassroots development and more matches for the youth team. The Indian Super League 2014 was the 4th most attended football league in the world, taking average attendances. As football gets played by more and more children, one can hope that India will not repeat its mistakes of 2014.”
These present rankings will play a decisive role in the beginning for the next round of the qualifiers for the World Cup.
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