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How India have fared against top FIFA ranked countries since 2000

India beat Kuwait to claim a famous victory on Tuesday. But how have they fared against powerhouses like Japan, Korea, Uruguay, Iran and Australia?

How India have fared against top FIFA ranked countries since 2000

Sunil Chhetri, who made his debut in 2005, has played against the likes of Japan, Korea, Australia, Iran and Uruguay. (AIFF)


Abon Gooptu

Updated: 4 July 2023 5:24 PM GMT

There's something interesting afoot in Indian football! A month after beating 98th-ranked Lebanon to clinch the 2023 Hero Intercontinental Cup, India beat Kuwait in the SAFF Championship final on Tuesday to clinch their ninth title.

Back in 1996, when a young Bhaichung Bhutia and a classy I.M. Vijayan had led the charge, India had achieved its best football ranking till date – 94. But with the turn of the decade, Indian football went into a downward spiral. By 2015, India received its lowest ever football rank of 173.

However, there has been a resurgence in recent years. In 2019, India held their nerve against 58th ranked Qatar in the latter’s own backyard, to salvage a 0-0 draw.

But what about the real powerhouses? How have India fared when they’ve been tasked with the challenge of facing top ranked teams? Here's a look at their records since 2000:

JAPAN, 2004 - Rank 18

India have encountered Japan a total of four times since the start of the decade. In 360 minutes, India have not been able to find the back of the net even once.

Additionally, India suffered its most humiliating defeat at the hands of Japan in 2004 with a gaping scoreline of 7-0. With Brazilian legend Zico steering the Japanese ship as the head coach, India were completely outplayed. Y Nakazawa, one of the only seven footballers to have reached hundred caps for Japan, scored a brace in the 7-0 win for Japan at the Saitama stadium.

The land of the rising sun was ranked 18th in the FIFA rankings when it faced off against India in 2004. W0, L4, D0

MatchesWLDGFGABiggest Margin of Defeat

Table 1.0 - India's head-to-head record against Japan, since 2000.

AUSTRALIA, 2011 - Rank 23

India faced off against Australia at the AFC Asian Cup, 2011. At the time, the Aussies were ranked number 19 in the world. Tim Cahill found the back of the net twice in a comfortable 4-0 win against the Blue Tigers. H2H W1, L0, D0


Biggest Margin of Defeat


Table 2.0 - India's head-to-head record against Australia, since 2000.

SOUTH KOREA, 2011 - Rank 32

India and South Korea have only faced off once since the turn of the decade. Prior to 2000, the head-to-head record against India suggested complete Korean dominance, with 16 victories, 5 losses and 2 draws. When the two nations met again at the AFC Asian Cup in 2011, the story was no different.

32nd ranked South Korea won with a scoreline of 4-1. Indian football legend and present captain Sunil Chhetri was the only Indian on the scoresheet that day, after scoring his penalty in the 12th minute. Tottenham player and 2022 English Premier League Golden Boot winner, Son Hueng-min also found the back of the net for South Korea.


Biggest Margin of Defeat


Table 3.0 - India's head-to-head record against South Korea, since 2000.

URUGUAY, 2001 - Rank 32

32nd ranked Uruguay clashed with India at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi in 2001. It was a Sahara Millenium Soccer Cup group-stage match which saw Uruguay ease their way to a 3-0 victory that ensured India’s elimination from the tournament.

Marcelo Segales, Ricardo Varela and Wilson Martirena scored for Uruguay in the 38th, 586th and 73rd minute respectively.


Biggest Margin of Defeat


Table 4.0 - India's head-to-head record against Uruguay, since 2000.

IRAN, 2015 - Rank 40

When it comes to India’s Asian rival, India has only managed to defeat Iran once in its history (in 1951).

India and Iran locked horns in a FIFA World Cup qualifier match at the Sree Kanterava Stadium, Bengaluru. Constantine’s men in blue were no match for 40th ranked Iran. Sardar Azmoun, Andranik Teymourian and Mehd Taremi all scored in a 3-0 victory for Iran.

The following year when the two nations met, India crumbled yet again and suffered a 4-0 loss.


Biggest Margin of Defeat


Table 5.0 - India's head-to-head record against Iran, since 2000.

Blunt Taste of Reality

Since 2000, while encountering a team in the top 60, India has only managed to secure a win once. That win came against 60th ranked Kuwait in a friendly match in 2004. Tomba Singh, Jerry Zirsanga and Abhishek Yadav, all scored to help India successfully make a comeback from 1-2 to 3-2.

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