Sunil Chhetri refuses to read a lot into India’s current FIFA Ranking

The Bengaluru FC skipper noted that the team will need to focus and churn out better results if they are to maintain the growth.

FIFA, the international football governing organisation, has released its latest set of rankings which places India in the 101st position, ahead of the likes of Iran, Oman and Thailand. Coincidentally, the Blue Tigers are the 11th highest-placed country in Asia. However, captain Sunil Chhetri refused to accept the rise in ranks as anything significant.

In a statement released through JSW Media, he said, “I’ve just had a look at the updated rankings put out by FIFA and ‘very happy’ is the simplest but most honest way to describe how I feel about India being placed at 101.

This achievement belongs to the team, the team behind the team, the coaching staff, the media, the fans and most importantly, to the country.“On a personal note, the joy is a little more given this is the highest ranking we’ve achieved during my time playing for the nation. But while we should celebrate every success, big or small, we also need to realise that the real test begins now. In my opinion, rankings are a very fickle measurement of one’s success and it is best to not get carried away by it.”

The Indian team has recently registered wins over Cambodia in an international friendly and against Myanmar in their first game in the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers. As such, it was expected that there will be a significant climb in the positions, and that was reflected in the rankings released today.

The current rank is India’s best in over a decade and is being celebrated across the country as a sign of the improving state of football.

It is well known that rankings are rarely a fair reflection of the quality of any team, and same is the case with India. The game against Cambodia was their first international match since September 2016, and that was obvious in the manner in which they went about in the match.

According to Chhetri, one win can take up a side by 50 places while a loss takes the same side down by 40 places. The real achievement, he says, will be to sustain the growth over the next three or four years, which will really underline India’s growing presence in the world footballing scenario.

The Bengaluru FC skipper noted that the team will need to focus and churn out better results if they are to maintain the growth. The national team takes on Lebanon and Palestine in their next two outings and resumes its qualification process for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in November this year against Myanmar.

These three games will be critical in determining as to whether they can sustain their position or if it was just a mathematical fluke.

It is a little-known fact that playing fewer matches actually improves FIFA rankings, and the mathematics used to determine rankings works out favourably if a team plays fewer games. Also, India play a low number of international games, so it should come as no surprise that the rankings have worked out for them.

As Chhetri has already pointed out, the yardstick for measuring the development of the game in the country onus should be on getting good results over a period of time and playing more friendlies, and not just the ever-changing rankings.

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