A look at the Indian football team's world ranking over the past 20 years
It has been a series of ups and downs for the Indian team with the past few years seeing the highest and lowest ever rankings ever witnessed
The Indian Football team has had its ups and downs for the past 2 decades. There have been over 6 managerial changes and a few trophies to account for. Legends such as IM Vijayan, Baichung Bhutia and Climax Lawrence have all come and gone. We take a look at the rankings of the Indian team over the past two decades and how they have fared.
By now, IM Vijayan was approaching the tail end of his career and Baichung Bhutia would be expected to be the sole striker and lead from the front. The meteoric rise in rankings that India had witnessed between 1992-1998 was to slow down considerably for a few years. The country did manage to win the LG Cup in 2002 but this proved to be the final trophy and major accolade for a long time. A victory over UAE and Brunei in the 2002 World Cup qualifying first round was a good start to the decade but India managed to fall short of qualifying for the next round by 1 point. Stephen Constantine had taken over and was delivering respectable results. But this did not stop India's rank from falling as it went from 116 to 127 in 5 years.
Syed Nayeemuddin replaced Constantine at the beginning of 2005, but this appointment was a disaster. Mya 2006 saw Bob Houghton replace him as head coach who changed the whole game. India won the 2007 Nehru Cup and AFC Challenge Cup in the span of 2 years. This also made them qualify for the AFC Asian Cup after 27 years. The rank change in the 5 years that saw considerable success for India was from 127-142.
This period saw India's rank go from 142- 166. Bob Houghton did a squad overhaul in 2011 in the year that also saw Baichung Bhutia retire. AIFF terminated Bob Houghton's contract in 2011 and Armando Colaco came in. The next few years were turbulent again there were several managerial changes. Wim Koevermans came in and won India's third Nehru Cup. Despite this, the country continued to languish in the rankings.
This has been the best period by far for Indian football. Stephen Constantine was brought in and took India to the third round of the AFC qualifiers. The team also qualified for the 2019 AFC Asia Cup and the rankings rose from 162 to an all-time high of 97 in the span of 4 years. This was historic as it was the highest ever ranking achieved by India.