Mumbai: The end of the year 2016 brought with it, a new year present for India in the form of elevated rank, in the FIFA rankings. The year ending positions, which were published on Thursday, marks India to stand at 135. This is their best in the last six years i.e. after 2009 where Indian team grabbed the 134th position.
National coach Stephen Constantine showed his gratitude and thanked all his players and the staff for the constant support which they extended for this boom. However, he still looks forward to better results in coming future.
“One of my priorities was to improve the national team ranking when I took over. The results do state that we have improved but there’s still a lot more to achieve,” he added.
“Football results are always determined by the support which one receives off the field. I am grateful both to Patel (AIFF President Praful Patel) and Das (AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das) for allowing me to do the things in the manner I wanted to do. Both of them envisage a long-term plan for Indian football and it’s a total team effort,” he maintained.
“There have been so many positives for us in 2016. Right from the National Team winning the SAFF Championship to the Women’s Team winning the SAG Gold to the National Team beating a team as high as Puerto Rico 4-1 (ranked 114 at that time) in an International Friendly, things are looking bright,” he said.
“The developments off the field saw us win the 2016 AFC Award for the Best Developing Member Association and we also had Uvena Fernandes, the first even Indian referee to officiate a World Cup final match. And off course we need to remember that we had an Indian Club in the AFC Cup final for the first time ever and one of our youth development product becoming the first Indian player to play in the Europa League,” he added.
The draw for the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers UAE 2017 will be held on January 23, 2017, and India would be playing their first match in the Qualifiers on March 28.