Pleased and proud at the Indian football team’s best-ever current FIFA ranking of 101 in more than two decades, its talismanic striker and skipper Sunil Chhetri cautioned his teammates not to remain contented.
“I am happy. In the eleven years I have been playing for the nation, we have never reached this (101st) ranking. I am proud of the team. But what I meant (after that) was we should not get carried away,” Chhetri said.
He spoke on the sidelines of the unveiling of the UEFA Champions League Trophy, as part of Heineken’s trophy tour campaign, by former Spanish football star Luis Garcia.
“We shouldn’t think that in two months we have done everything, crossed 40 teams and done better than them. We have jumped the rankings, because of the way rankings work,” the Indian captain said.
“If you lose an important tournament at home against not-so-fancy team, you lose (drop) 30-40 (places) in the ranking. It also depends on how many teams are playing, (their) importance, who is playing away. It (ranking) is very fickle,” he said.
According to Chhetri, India has done well, winning 11 of the 13 international games, but it cannot remain contented.
He also termed India’s 1-0 win over Myanmar, a victory that has come after several decades, in the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers in Yangon as an important one.
“I am happy that we (defeated) Myanmar in an away game and it was not an easy match. But now the real test comes, Kyrgyzstan, whom we play at home and away, first at home. We are going to try and win it and then we have two games (against) Macau,” he remarked.
“It won’t be an easy game (against Kyrgyzstan),” said Chhetri while pointing out to the match between Macau and Kyrgyzstan that was goalless till the 69th minute, adding that was the reason he said the win over Myanmar was important.
If India defeat Kyrgystan it would move a step closer to book a berth in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup tournament which is to be held in the United Arab Emirates, according to Chhetri.