The Indian national football team obtained its best ranking in world football in over a decade as per the latest rankings released by FIFA on Wednesday.
The ranking of 129 is also a huge improvement of 42 places in less than two years apart from being the best ever since August 2006. The Indian football team had an encouraging 2016, winning nine of their last 11 international matches. A win against Peurto Rico, a side ranked 114 - much higher - was the highlight of the year.
"The national team gaining its best ranking since December 2005 shows that we are on the upsurge. The ranking enables us to be placed in pot two when the draw for the Asian Cup Qualifiers UAE 2019 is to be conducted later this month. We had last qualified for the Asian Cup in 2011 and hope to be there again in UAE in 2019," All India Football Federation (AIFF) general secretary Kushal Das said.
National coach Stephen Constantine said: "We have had a really good couple of years during my time and while results have been mixed, we have achieved what we said we would. Our ranking is at its highest since 2005 which is obviously great for Indian football. There is, however, a very long way to go where I intend to take Indian football to, but I can say that we have begun our journey."
India were ranked 171 when Constantine took over as national coach for the second time in February 2015 and slipped further to 173 in March 2015 in the FIFA ladder even before Constantine could have his first game in-charge against Nepal, which India eventually won 2-0 on aggregate.
The rise has been consistent with the Indian team since August 2010 when they jumped 11 places to move to 137 in the FIFA rankings released on October 20, 2016. The year-end of 2016 brought another achievement for Indian football in the form of a two-place jump to 135th in the world making it their 6-year highest annual ranking since 2009.