India rises to 101 in FIFA rankings

New Delhi: 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 www.the-aiff.com.

“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,” All India Football Federation (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.

Meanwhile, Brazil toppled Argentina to become the No 1 team in the world followed by Germany, Chile and Colombia.

The rankings leave India in an optimum position to penetrate the top 100, as they last did in 1996, rising to 94.