Millennium Post

'India will breach historical best FIFA ranking soon'

Indian football coach Stephen Constantine is sure that the side under him will breach the historical best FIFA ranking of 94 in the next few months, as he trains his guns on taking the country to a third Asian Cup. Owing to seven international wins on the trot since last year, the Indian team is currently sitting at exactly 100th spot, and Constantine said by the time the Asian Cup qualifiers end in March next year they should be placed better than the 94th achieved in February 1996.

"I am not very good at mathematics. But if we are 93, I would be the happiest man. That would be the historical highest. I am going to do it. I don't know if it will be on July 6 (next FIFA ranking date) but I am going to do it. I don't know if that (Kyrgyzstan win on June 13 in Asian Cup qualifiers) will push us that far but I hope to make history at the end of these qualifiers," Constantine said in an interview.

India beat Kyrgyzstan on June 13 in Bangalore to place themselves on course to qualify for the Asian Cup in 2019. The qualifying round matches will continue till March next year.

India's next match is against Macau on September 5.

If India qualify for the 2019 Asian Cup, it will be only the third time they would make it to the flagship continental tournament after 1984 and 2011.

When told that India used to be in the 20s among Asian countries but are now at 11th spot just below the likes of China and Qatar, Constantine said in a lighter vein, "Not in their lifetime (people must be thinking this can happen)."

The 54-year-old Constantine, who is in his second stint as India coach after the first one in 2002-2005, said that his side were not playing with only the FIFA rankings in mind. "The FIFA rankings are a little bit misleading, it does not tell the whole story. Because, that depends on the number of games you play, who you play with, what the other teams do and what other teams do not do. "It's difficult to judge whether we are 11th best nation in Asia or we are 90 something in the world.

There are a lot of very good teams who are below us because they did not play or they lost to bigger teams," said Constantine who is here with the India Under-23 team for a 10-day national camp ahead of next month's continental qualifiers.
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