Let’s get straight to the point. The Indian football team has broken into the top 100 in the FIFA Rankings, for the first time in 21 years. And when we say broken into, we mean they are at number 100.
In recently released FIFA rankings on May 3, 2017, India occupied 100th spot jumping one place up and shares their rankings with Lithuania, Nicaragua and Estonia. They have maintained their 11th position in Asia as per AFC rankings.
India’s last two victories came against 3-2 win over Cambodia and 1-0 win over Myanmar. The team’s rise to the top 100 from being 174th in February 2015 is nothing short of a dream run.
With India playing the 2019 Asian Cup Qualifier and friendlies against teams like Lebanon and Palestine, there is hope that the team will move up the pecking order at the end of this year.
India termed as “Sleeping Giant”, has been sleeping for far too long. But with the FIFA Under-17 World Cup all set to be hosted in India in October 2017, we can hope that the giant finally wakes up.
The Indian football team is largely ignored by mainstream media. Luckily, fans of Indian football have stood by them and backed their team even in the worst situation possible.
Football in India is no more restricted to European football and many have started rooting for their local clubs, be it ISL (Indian Super League) or I-League. It is this support that saw underdogs Aizawl FC win the I-League in 2017. However, Indian football has a long way to go. Aizawal FC has been relegated to second division football in India while clubs like Mohun Bagan and East Bengal (that Aizawal FC beat) are going to play first division. This can happen only in India where the reigning champion will play a lower division than the teams it has beaten. Urgent steps need to be taken here to address this issue.
On the whole, we can say that Indian football is slowly and steadily making its mark felt in a cricket-crazy nation.