The Indian football team recently qualified for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup after crushing Macau 4-1, in a qualifier earlier this month, thus stretching their unbeaten record to 12 matches. As a matter of fact, India is just behind Germany in terms of current FIFA international unbeaten streaks and ahead of all other footballing nations if current unbeaten runs are considered.
The Europeans are on top with a 19 match unbeaten streak which includes 16 wins and 3 draws. The ‘Blue Tigers’ have won 11 out of their last 12 matches, followed by Belgium who secured the third position. The Belgians have won 9 out of their last 12, while 3 have yielded no results.
India were loitering in the bottom half of the FIFA rankings table, at 173, in February 2016. But, the things changed following Stephen Constantine’s appointment as the head coach. Since then, it has been no looking back; India played quality football throughout the last year and also this year.
It was due to these impressive displays that India entered the top 100 of the FIFA rankings for the first time in 20 years. So far, India has won all the qualification round matches for the 2019 Asian Cup. Sunil Chhetri and co. have conceded just one goal in the qualifiers and scored eight.
With the FIFA U17 World Cup fever still on, football in India is becoming popular day by day. Performing well in the 2019 Asian Cup should be the top priority for the Indian team till the tournament arrives. The last time India appeared in the event was back in 2011, where they were hammered by heavyweight opponents like South Korea, Australia and Bahrain and shown the exit door in the group stage itself.
Hopefully, India will put up a better show in 2019, considering the fact that this unit is much more compact and well organised than the one which featured in 2011. India still has two AFC Asian Cup qualifiers left, one against Myanmar and the other against The Kyrgyz Republic.