Last month, there was a wave of happiness among the handful but passionate football supporters of India (handful compared to Cricket fans, otherwise we are huge in numbers. Sadly it’s a country where everybody follows cricket), that was because India leaped 11 places up in the FIFA rankings and came up to 137th position.
The jump happened only because the Indian team beat Puerto Rico in September who were 10 places up from India at that time. But it seems that the joy and the glimmer of brightness will be short-lived for the Indian fans. AIFF has somehow managed to fail to arrange another friendly in this upcoming International break in November.
Someone may argue that ISL is going on and that may be the reason but it’s not acceptable. How come a franchise league is more important than the national team’s games? It is surprising but sadly it’s the harsh truth of Indian football. Friendlies have been few and far between for the Indian national team which has made a negative effect.
Lack of friendly means the rank will decline again. The team has shown if opportunity is given they have the capability to beat the better ranked teams, but it’s no international football for them this month. There is an obvious notion that if the team lose then the rankings may go down further but trying and failing is better than failing without even giving a try. The momentum was there for the team, even the players that are involved in ISL are in good, competitive shape as well but it’s a disappointment that no friendlies are being arranged this time around.
Lack of friendlies has hampered India’s rank till date, as they play so less games, there is a minimum chance for the team to climb up in the rankings. The FIFA rankings also hinder the fate of players abroad, who don’t get work permit to play there if their country’s rank is below a certain number. With the game emerging and young players getting their chances in Europe, it’s high time that we try to utilize these International breaks.
They can, we can’t:
And another astonishing fact is that countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Brunei, Nepal etc. who are far below India’s rank are managing to play a friendly but India can’t find one, which is surprising and disgusting at the same time. Before September this year, India last played a friendly in August last year, which clearly shows the lack of matches and a careless approach towards friendly fixtures.
What to do:
The game of ISL is welcome up to a certain limit, but we have to realize that Indian players will have to get more opportunities and only that way the football in India can develop. ISL is a fantastic initiative, but we have to give priority to our national team players ahead of that. The exposure to the international arena is not a cakewalk and it will be handled in a more efficient way by a player when he will have the experience of playing more friendlies and other International fixtures, which is our players lacking foremost.
As it seems, we will be going down at least a couple of places in this month’s FIFA ranking. The lack of proper execution may well be the reason of our suffering in the future and we have to overcome that. AIFF needs to understand the importance of friendlies, as it is a perfect unveiling of a player in the international arena. These are the building blocks of a team from where the goods and flaws can be assessed and implemented according to that in the competitive matches.
Recently football in India has taken just a small step forward. But we need to continue the resurgence and only then Indian football will develop.
Photo by public.resource.org