India achieved career-best ranking in over two decades
The last couple of years had been fruitful for India as they won 11 of their 13 matches, including an unofficial game against Bhutan, while scoring a total of 31 goals.
India recently posted a 1-0 victory over Myanmar in the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers — their first-ever in Myanmar in over 64 years.
Before that India’s first win in an away encounter in over a decade came when they beat Cambodia 3-2 in an International Friendly.
The 4-1 win at home for India last year against Puerto Rico was also commendable.
“It has been a difficult road. Bringing in new blood and creating competition for places in the team has been a process, and I’m pleased we are moving in the right direction,” India coach Stephen Constantine said.
“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. I also need to thank the support staff for their commitment for the team,” he added.
The Indian team, governed by the All India Football Federation, were ranked 171 when Constantine took over as national coach for the second time in February 2015. They had slipped further to 173 in March 2015 in the FIFA ladder. After that Constantine had his first game in charge against Nepal, which India won 2-0.
Speaking on the achievement, AIFF chief said: “This is a great achievement and a fruitful reward for the hard work displayed by the team and the support staff on a regular basis. We at AIFF look forward to support the team and the coach in their endeavours to ensure sustained growth of Indian football.”
General secretary Das added: “The AIFF is committed to provide the best of exposure and facilities for the national team in the form of arranging International Friendlies and preparatory camps. We are delighted to achieve this milestone and hope to display the same character in our coming matches.”
India will next play Lebanon in an International Friendly at home on June 7 before hosting Kyrgyz Republic on June 13 in their next AFC Asian Cup qualifier match.