The Indian National football team have climbed up three places to 163rd in the updated FIFA world rankings announced today. India gained seven points after their recent SAFF Cup win over Afghanistan, who are now ranked 153rd in the list, thus moving ahead of Liechtenstein, Gambia and Grenada to take up their new position in the world rankings.
The rise in rankings came as a bubble of positivity for a nation who is looking forward to hosting the U-17 World Cup next year.
Two days back, India became the champions of South Asia for the seventh time by beating a strong Afghanistan side 2-1 in the final held at Trivandrum. Sunil Chhetri and his side avenged their disappointing 2-0 loss against Afghanistan in the final of the previous edition back in 2013, by showing great character after winning the game in extra time. India came from behind with the help of goals from Jeje Lalpekhlua and skipper Chhetri to be crowned champions again.
The Indian team had slumped to 172nd in the table, their second lowest ranking ever after the side suffered back to back losses in the World Cup qualifiers. However, the team secured 318.75 rating points from their 1-0 win against higher ranked Guam in December and had moved up to a satisfactory 166th in the World rankings.
Change of fortunes for Constantine?
The SAFF Cup triumph was English coach Stephen Constantine’s first international title with India after taking up the job from Wim Kovermans in early 2015. The team and manager were in much pressure coming into the tournament having lost five and won just one match in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
However, a resolute display by his side eased the pressure on Constantine and with this recent bunch of fearless footballers, India could achieve better things in 2016.
The departure of Afghanistan from the SAFF to CAFF means Maldives are the only side, who are ranked 157th, above India in the rankings. Other SAFF representatives, Bangladesh are at 179th, followed by Pakistan and Sri Lanka at 185th and 188th respectively.
Bhutan is at 192nd spot and Nepal are the lowest ranked SAFF team at 196th position in the world rankings. India’s highest world ranking is the 94th position that they achieved in 1996 under the former Uzbek coach Rustam Akramov.
Belgium is still at the top of the table with 1494 points and Thailand are the biggest movers in the latest ranking updates by moving up twelve spots to 121st.