India’s national football team achieved its highest annual ranking in six years after being placed 135th in the year-end list announced by world governing body, FIFA.
The Indian football team was ranked 134 in 2009 but have since struggled in their bid to inch closer to the 100-mark due to few international friendlies and modest results in the matches they have figured in.
National coach Stephen Constantine praised the current team. “It can’t be achieved without the help of the players. We have an exceptional batch of players as we are in the process of building the team for the future,” the Cyprus-born Englishman told the All India Football Federation website.
Since 2009, India’s best was in 2010 when they were ranked 142 but slipped as low as 171 in 2014 before beginning their slow climb.
- India’s national football team finished 2016 ranked 135, which was its best position in the last six years. India were 134 in 2009
- India won the SAFF Cup title in Thiruvananthapuram during the year.
- Stephen Constantine and Co also defeated Puerto Rico 4-1, then-ranked 114, in an international friendly in Mumbai.
- India won the 2016 AFC Award for the Best Developing Member Association.
- I-League’s Bengaluru FC became the first Indian team to reach the AFC Cup final.
- India goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu became the first Indian to play in the Europa League, playing for Norwegian club Stabaek FC.
Constantine acknowledged the team had a long way to go. “One of my priorities was to improve the national team ranking when I took over. The results do state we have improved but there’s still a lot more to achieve.”
India won the SAFF Cup title in Thiruvananthapuram during the year and defeated Puerto Rico 4-1, ranked 114 then, in an international friendly in Mumbai.
“The developments off the field saw us win the 2016 AFC Award for the Best Developing Member Association… And of course we need to remember we had an Indian Club (Bengaluru FC) in the AFC Cup final for the first time ever and one of our youth development product became the first Indian player to play in the Europa League,” he added.
Constantine was referring to Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who featured in the second-most important European club tournament for Norway’s Stabaek FC.
The draw for the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers will be held on January 23. India will begin their campaign on March 28.