The Indian football team reached its highest-ever world ranking since August 2006. This achievement comes without Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and co. kicking or passing a ball in the last four months. According to FIFA’s latest ranking, India was ranked 129th, improving six spots above their year-ending rank of 135 in 2016. Previously, the Indian football team last featured in an international friendly against higher-ranked Puerto Rico in September, jumping 23 places to 135th spot after defeating Puerto Rico by a stunning margin of 4-1.
The managing body, All India Football Federation (AIFF) seems to be focussing more on the ranking than the number of matches to play, in order to ensure that India rises up as much as possible by January. This occurrence might be a reason that the governing body wanting India a decent draw from the final round of 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers.
However, according to the critics, this isn’t a professional approach while preparing for a competition.
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FIFA’s calculation on rankings has puzzled many. The method is based on a simple calculation, based on face value. Points are given based primarily on the strengths of the opposition, with multipliers as the result is out (x3 for a win, x0 for defeat). While the level of competition is calculated on parameters like maximum for world or continental competition and minimum for friendly ties.
Thereafter, an average of points gained in every match since last four years is taken into account, with more stress being given to latest performances. All these sum up resulting in a team’s current points and rankings.
In a statement to The Indian Express, AIFF general secretary Kushal Das said that so far it has been ‘up to their expectation.’ He said, “We have come down from 140s to 129. The thinking was simply to get a favourable draw so that we have best possible chance to qualify for Asian Cup in 2019.”
He also added, “I would have been happy if we were in Pot 1 of the qualifying draw. But at least we are in Pot 2. There was a little miscalculation as I was certain that (ranking of) less than 130, we would be Pot 1. The cut off now would be 126 maybe.” The draw is likely to be held in Kuala Lumpur on January 23.