New Delhi, April 6 (IANS) The Indian football team jumped 31 places to be at the 101st spot in the recently released FIFA rankings, their best in a couple of decades.
From 132, Stephen Constantine’s boys rode their narrow 1-0 win against Myanmar in their third round opener of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers to record their sixth consecutive victory.
India’s highest FIFA ranking so far has been 94, which was attained in February 1996 while India were ranked 99 in November 1993 and 100 in October 1993, December 1993 and April 1996.
India accumulated a total of 331 points. Last month’s total saw them net 233 points.
The near historic rise in rankings has seen Sunil Chhetri and company leapfrog North Korea, Thailand, Latvia, Jordan and former Asia champions Iraq to name a few.
India are tied on points with Estonia, Lithuania and Nicaragua.
The ranking of 101 elevated India to 11th in Asia.
“It has been a difficult road. 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,” India coach Stephen Constantine told the official website of the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
“It’s been a total team effort. Unless (AIFF President Praful) Patel and (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 to the team,” he added.
India were ranked 171 when Constantine took over the Indian team 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.
“This is a great achievement and a fruitful reward for the hard work displayed by the team and the support staff on a regular basis. We at AIFF look forward to supporting the team and the coach in their endeavours to ensure sustained growth of Indian football,” AIFF chief Praful Patel said.
“The AIFF is committed to providing the best of exposure and facilities for the National Team in the form of arranging international friendlies and preparatory camps. We are delighted to achieve this milestone and hope to display the same character in our coming matches,” Das said.
Post achieving the new ranking, India will play Lebanon in their first international friendly at home on June 7 before taking on Kyrgyzstan at home on June 13 in their next AFC Asian Cup qualifier.
Five-time World Cup champions Brazil are at the top of the FIFA rankings. They displaced bitter rivals Argentina who are now at the second spot while reigning world champions Germany are third.
Chile, Colombia, France, Belgium, Portugal, Switzerland and Spain complete the top 10.
Brazil have reclaimed their seat at the top of the FIFA rankings after a seven-year hiatus. They lost the top spot after losing to the Netherlands in the quarter-finals of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
Recent wins over Uruguay and Paraguay in the qualification campaign for the 2018 World Cup to be held in Russia have secured their return to the top of the table.
Switzerland, who have climbed two rungs to the ninth spot, were the only side to break into the top 10, with Uruguay heading in the opposite direction, dropping nine places to be placed 15th.
Iran, who continue to be the top ranked nation in Asia, are at the 28th spot. South Korea are the second highest ranked team in the continent at the 43rd position, closely followed by Japan at 44.
Among other teams, Poland built on their best-ever placing last month to go one better and climb to the 11th spot, a feat mirrored by 35th ranked Burkina Faso who rose a spot from their previous best of 36.
Meanwhile, Peru (17, plus 1), Curaçao (70, plus 4), Swaziland (88, plus 10), and Papua New Guinea (156, plus 14) also registered new best-ever placings.
FYR Macedonia, who rose 33 places to the 133rd spot, were the month’s biggest movers, with some strong gains coming within the top 50 too as Sweden (34, plus 11), Northern Ireland (26, plus 9), USA (23, plus 7), Greece (39, plus 7) and Japan (44, plus 7) all gained ground.