The Indian football team achieved its best FIFA ranking in over six years when the side jumped 11 places to be 137th in the latest list released on Thursday. India, who defeated 114th ranked Puerto Rico in an international friendly in Mumbai in September, garnered 230 points for the month. In August 2010, India were ranked 137th which stayed India’s best ever FIFA Ranking since then. National Coach Stephen Constantine sounded delighted but wasn’t willing to read too much into it.
“When I came over for my second stint, one of my tasks was to improve our FIFA Rankings. With the results which we have had so far, it is clear that we have succeeded,” he told www.the-aiff.com. “It’s been a total Team effort. Unless Mr. Patel (AIFF President Praful Patel) and Mr. Das (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,” he stressed. “But this is just the beginning of the long-term plan which we envisage for Indian Football. I am certainly not over the moon as I feel my Team can achieve much more,” he stated.
India were ranked 171st when Constantine took over as national coach for the second time in February last year and slipped to 173rd in March even before Constantine could have his first game in-charge against Nepal, which India eventually won 2-0 on aggregate. Constantine mentioned about the impact the national team has made after reducing the average age from around 32 to 24. “We have been able to reduce the average age of the team from around 32 to 24 which is very significant indeed,” he quipped. “The AIFF Academies were set with a purpose and if you look at my team, there is continuity. We have introduced so many youngsters from the AIFF Youth Development setup and also from the AIFF scouting network,” he maintained.