Zurich: The Indian football team achieved their best ever FIFA ranking in over two decades, as they climbed up to number 96.
While India achieved their best ever FIFA rankings (94), back in 1996, their current rank becomes their second best in the history of the sport in the country.
India have experienced a phenomenal rise in their rankings in the last couple of years, after head coach Stephen Constantine took over for his second stint with the side.
India, who were ranked 171 when Constantine took over in 2015, had soon slipped to 173, despite not playing any matches that month.
Since then, however, they have climbed a phenomenal 77 spots, to attain the second best FIFA ranking in their history.
“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,” said Constantine.
“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.”
However, the Englishman emphasised on not resting on these laurels, as he looks to spur the team on to greater glories.
“The present FIFA spot doesn’t mean that we have achieved much. We need to stay focused on the upcoming challenges,” he said.
This upward thrust in the FIFA rankings now pushes India up to 12th on the Asian charts.
All India Football Federation (AIFF) general secretary Kushal Das, however, said emphasised the importance of qualifying for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, despite this rise in ranking. India are currently leading Group A of the third stage of the Asian qualifiers, defeating teams like Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan on the way.
“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,” said Das.
Meanwhile, AIFF chief Praful Patel praised the Blue Tigers and coach Constantine for their performance.
“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,” said Patel. “The leap signifies the potential of Indian Football. Congratulations to the National Team boys, the Coach, the staff and all in AIFF.”
India have been on tremendous form over the last year, as they have won 12 of their last 14 official international games. They are also currently on an eight-game winning streak.
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