India’s 168th position in the FIFA rankings reflects the general standard of football in the country and a systematic approach is needed to improve the status of the sport, says All India Football Federation (AIFF) technical director Robert Baan.

Participating in a panel discussion on Mission Rank 100 in soccer: Myth or Reality? in the seminar Turf 2012 Global Sports Summit by FICCI here on Friday, Baan said: “If we lose to Singapore then we are not good enough…A country like Iceland, which has a population of around 60,000 is ranked around 60 in the FIFA charts. It is a shame that India is ranked 168,” said Baan.

Baan suggested that India should go step by step and try to win games against teams like Singapore and go up in the rankings instead of aspiring to play a top side like Spain.

Referring to a few elite players’ views that India ought to be ranked higher, Baan said despite its discrepancies the FIFA rankings were not very far from reality and India would do well to lift its performance to achieve its dream of making it to the top 100 in the world in the next few years.

Agreeing with Baan about the FIFA rankings, South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) secretary general Alberto Colaco stressed on arranging matches which would cost less and fetch more points for India.

“It is essential to play games which will be considered for FIFA ranking and we must aim to win those matches. It is easier to arrange matches against South Asian countries. These are winnable and cheaper (to organise),” Colaco said.

“We won the match against Cameroon, a higher ranked FIFA team, in the Nehru Cup but could not garner points as the tournament is not considered for FIFA rankings.”

Baan, the author of Master Plan – Lakshya 2022 (which aims at helping India qualify for 2022 World Cup in Qatar), said systematic grooming of young players would raise the standard of Indian football and the AIFF academies might contribute in this area.

Talking about the I-League, Baan suggested that more teams from all over the country should be allowed to participate in the competition.

Colaco pointed out that the facilities provided by the clubs were not as good as the ones provided by the AIFF.

Travelling from one part of the country to another also takes its toll on the players, said Colaco.

Keywords: Indian footballAIFF

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