Indian football coach Stephen Constantine wants to take the team to 93rd position in the FIFA rankings which would beat their previous best of 94th that the India 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 told PTI in an interview.
Talking about the FIFA rankings, Constantine revealed that the format of the rankings is a bit misleading as they don’t really give the description about the performances of the teams.
“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.
Mentioning about his immediate aim, the coach told that he will first target to qualify for the 2019 Asian Cup.
“I don’t get carried away with the FIFA rankings. My immediate aim is to qualify for the 2019 Asian Cup and we are in a pretty good position for that. It is good to see that we are moving upwards. As long as we are moving up, and in that sense FIFA rankings can be a guide for us,” said Constantine.
“Our plan was to play as often as possible. We pick teams that are available and that suits us depending on who are going to play in the qualifiers. “There is no point for us to go and play China when we are playing, say, Lebanon in a qualifier. We are not going to play a Jordan, we are not going to play a Qatar. Yes, we plan out which country we will play against, but we did not plan around the FIFA rankings,” he added.
Revealing his further plans, Constantine told that he would aim to make his team play 10 or 12 matches this year.
“It (the number of matches) depends on the calendar of national league and international qualifiers. We will play 10 or 12 games this year. Most international teams that are active play around 10 games. There are five FIFA windows and in each window you get nine days and in that nine, you usually play two matches. So, playing 10 matches is a good number,” he said.
Constantine mentioned some of the matches where his side played good football. “No, it was a fantastic result but the same in case of Myanmar (1-0 win in Asian Cup qualifiers) also. I don’t want to pick one or two matches and say this was the best match. “Winning the SAFF Championships by beating Afghanistan was fantastic. Beating Guam with 10 men was superb. We had some very good results in the last two years. Kyrgyzstan match was the best which was the last, so the last is always the best. We have played some very good football and won games. We have also won games but not played our best,” he said.
“I said at the very first press conference that there are going to be dark days. At that time, we have not beaten Nepal for two years, we were at 173rd in FIFA rankings then. During the World Cup qualifiers we were not a team, we had so many new players, from different systems, different coaches, different philosophy. “You cannot change all of these in three, four or five games, that is not possible. It is not overnight. The average age of the team is from earlier 30 to 23 now, you have a team of the future now, for at least five-six years,” said the coach.
The coach emphasised on focusing on the upcoming game in September. “Our next game (Asian Cup qualifiers) is in September and I am not looking past September. I am speaking honestly. First, India must qualify and then after that it’s a whole different situation. First, let us qualify and see what happens,” he said.