New Delhi: The president of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), Praful Patel, feels India’s 169th ranking on the FIFA chart is not a true reflection of the country's national football team.
On Sunday, India lifted the Nehru Cup for the third consecutive time beating Cameroon 5-4 in a penalty shootout at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Patel, who is also India's Heavy Industries Minister, said the win had given Indian football a boost.
"We have to play more international matches to get the recognition. Indian football is on the rise and that has to reflect at the world stage after a successful Nehru Cup," he told reporters during a media interaction in the presence of FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke in New Delhi.
"Playing according to the FIFA calendar will make the result count and we hope that football body helps us with this. Surely, we are much, much better than the FIFA rankings. Indian football is heading at the right direction and we are optimistic about football growth in India."
On the day Indian football hit it’s lowest FIFA ranking, Patel also said he was hopeful of the country making its World Cup debut in 2022. To achieve that goal, the AIFF has stepped up efforts with India signing an agreement with FIFA under which the football body will provide strategically and technical assistance to the board.
"We have undertaken a 10-year development program. We are hopeful of qualifying for the World Cup by 2022," said Patel.