Indian Football should not forget the National Team
With all the hype surrounding the inaugural Indian Super League, the lesser impact start of the I-League after the low profile Federation Cup, one thing often seems to be forgotten which is the Indian national football team. 2015 is an important year for Team India with the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers for Asia set to kick-off with the qualifiers and the preliminary group stage.
In my opinion it was a good and wise step by the All India Football Federation to bring back Stephen Constantine as the Indian national team coach as someone who has worked in the difficult Indian football surroundings but over the last decade since his first stint with India has gained a lot of experience in England, Cyprus and Africa; which will help Stephen to handle things with the senior national team as well as the Under-23s.
But the danger is that there is continued talk and questioning about when India will play in the FIFA World Cup with people often not realizing how difficult it is to qualify for the tournament proper from Asia with 47 nations fighting over the four-and-a-half spots available.
One thing is sure, and take my word for it, is that India will not qualify and play in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia barring a miracle. I am a positive thinker but also a realist, and a pragmatist about Indian football's status and standing in Asia. The qualifiers are just months away with India’s recent slump down the FIFA World Rankings is likely to force India to play the Asian home-and-away qualifiers round ahead of the real preliminary group stage.
It doesn’t make Stephen Constantine’s job at all easy, but Stephen knows from 2002 on how to build a new squad or strengthen an existing squad from his three years in charge of Team India and the Asian Games squad.
But again, Team India needs all possible support and positive thinking.