Indian national football team registered a thumping 4-1 victory over Macau to book their place in 2019 Asian Cup. It will be Blues fourth appearance in the Asia’s prestigious competition. They qualified with 12 points from four matches with two matches remaining in the qualifying round. It’s a remarkable achievement for India and they’ll eye another improvement in ranking in upcoming 16th Oct FIFA rankings update.
India survived in top 100 for three months including June, July and August, but they lost their berth in top 100 in September. Blues currently sits at 107th, nine points behind 106th ranked Niger. But, AFC Asian Cup qualification will bring improvement in ranking for the Blue brigade for sure.
India first qualified for the AFC Asian Cup championship in1964, then 1984, 2011, and now 2019. India finishes runners-up in 1964, but they didn’t survive group stage and failed miserably in 1984 & 2011. This time India has shown resilience and Coach Stephen Constantine describes this India team as the best in the history.
Constantine had all the praise for the Blues after their qualification in 2019 AFC Asian Cup championship. He said as The Hindu writes, “This is one of the best teams in the history of Indian football, if not the best.”
This Indian team has the luxury of star players. Sunil Chhetri, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Rowlin Borges, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Mohammed Rafique, CK Vineeth, and Sandesh Jhingan has earned considerable fanfares among the Indian football fans.
India beat Macau 4-1 in Kanteerava Stadium to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup with 12 points sitting at top of group A, but Constantine wants his team to finish at top after qualification rounds get over. There is still two rounds to play and bench warmers could find their place in the playing XI.
SAFF champion needed AFC Asian Cup qualification to continue to work towards their goal of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup in 2026. They needed to play against the best teams in Asia confederation. AFC will open the gate of Blues to face top teams like Iran, Iraq, Japan, Australia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, etc.
Sunil Chhetri, Indian captain himself holds a similar view. When asked about what the victory and qualification meant for the team, he said, “It means we rub shoulders with the best in Asia.”
India have improved vastly in recent times, but there is still a long road. FirstPost reports as Chhetri adds, “We have worked really hard. But in the end, we are India. So we know, we have to work harder.”