AIFF president Praful Patel on Saturday in Mumbai said, "Our aim is to break into the top 100 in three years. We have been sliding in the rankings consistently. We need to develop the infrastructure as well as concentrate on grass roots level development. That is possible only by making it totally professional."
So the AIFF president Praful Patel thinks that India can raise its rankings over the next three years to be amongst the top 100 in the FIFA world rankings. It is interesting to see that the president of our federation thinks we can achieve such an ambitious goal. But is it a realistic approach, if the AIFF currently is in no position to offer Bob Houghton the number of international friendlies wanted by him to prepare his side for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup?
The question has to be asked, but it isn't the first time the AIFF president is making such a statement in recent weeks. On September 12 at the "Football Players Association of India" awards 2010 night Praful Patel when I asked him about Indian football's future. The key as he termed it was infrastructure and youth development which needed to be developed over the next three to five years. So we need to judge Praful Patel and the AIFF as a whole on this in the month's and years to come.
And is it so easy to gain more then 60 spots in the rankings? It is a difficult proposition if we do not play in the continental qualifiers and ensure that our senior team plays and wins the SAFF Cup. Otherwise only playing international friendlies will not be enough for us to make this steep progress in the coming years.
Why? Simply put matches in the World Cup, continental championships ahead of the qualifiers get teams the most points, especially if sides can beat higher placed opponents. The least points are awarded for international friendlies. So the aim of Team India should be to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Asian qualifiers group stage to play against higher ranked teams in Asia and cause some upsets and in the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup ensure that we play the 2015 AFC Asian Cup. This would give our rankings a sure push in the coming month's and years.