The Indian national football team made up for the disappointment of not qualifying for the World Cup in Qatar by securing a place at the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. However, it is the failure of the qualification for the 2022 World Cup which will disappoint football fans in India. The nation finished in third place in the World Cup qualifying group, but after registering just one win in six games, the nation was nine points behind second-placed Oman.
Nevertheless, this is the highest position the country has achieved since the 2002 World Cup qualifying campaign. Many people wonder if this is enough for a country with a growing football league and a huge population. India is currently ranked 104th on the FIFA table of international football teams.
A struggle to compete with cricket
One problem that hampers football’s attempts at success is that it has to compete with cricket, the nation’s favorite sport. Cricket legends such as Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid are known worldwide, so it is no surprise that most aspiring sportsmen in India grow up wanting to play cricket rather than football. In the men’s test team rankings, the Indian national cricket team currently sits second behind Australia and the nation won the Cricket World Cup in 2019. The eyes of the world will be on India l next year as the nation hosts the Cricket World Cup.
Nonetheless, India have made strides in world football in recent years and it is important to remember that the Indian Super League was established just eight years ago. One of the benefits of the league with its big-money franchises has been the signing of aging but influential global stars, including World Cup winner Alessandro Del Piero, Australian Tim Cahill and former Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov. The opportunity to play and compete with such players has helped to raise the level of Indian football.
Signs of improvement
Moreover, the Football Association of India signaled its intention in 2019 by appointing Igor Štimac, the former Croatian national team coach, as their head coach. The popularity of football in India was demonstrated by the crowd of 53,286 who attended the World Cup qualifiers against Bangladesh at the Salt Lake Football Stadium in Kolkata in 2019.
Furthermore, India recently celebrated their success in the third round of qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup 2023, as the country topped their group with a record three wins from three games, finishing ahead Hong Kong, Afghanistan and Cambodia.
Although India did not qualify for this year’s World Cup, there will still be global interest and involvement in the competition as people from (but not limited to) nations across the Both AFC and Australia will be betting on FIFA World Cup betting sites such as Bet365. The Asian Football Confederation will be represented by host nation Qatar, who topped India’s World Cup qualifying group and are rated 14/1 to win Group A, which includes the Netherlands, Ecuador and Senegal. Other AFC nations are Australia and Japan, who are both priced at 250/1 to become world champions.
India certainly have room to improve further with Štimac at the helm. He stressed the importance of working with national competition stakeholders to organize sufficient preparation time for the national team as well as at least four friendlies. He sees this as a key factor in achieving positive results.
Overreliance on star striker
The magnitude of the task facing Štimac is illustrated by the case of Sunil Chhetri, who has scored 84 goals in 129 games for India and is the country’s most capped player and top scorer of all time. Chhetri is 37 and will eventually need to be replaced, although he continues to turn the clock with his performances in the recent Asian Cup qualifying campaign. In June 2022, he scored four of India’s eight goals in three games as part of the third round of qualifying for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.
— Advertising —
In contrast, Manvir Singh, who plays for ATK Mohun Bagan, has scored just six goals for the national team in 33 appearances, while teammate Liston Colaco is yet to make the scoresheet in 11 appearances for the national team. ‘India. Ashique Kuruniyan, another candidate to replace Chhetri, has scored once in 25 international appearances. It is essential that India find a goalscorer to replace Chhetri as the nation scored just six goals in eight games in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers – Chhetri scoring three times.
While India have shown improvement of late, the lack of goals will always hamper the nation’s chances against the bigger nations. This will be exacerbated by the fact that there is no replacement for Sunil Chhetri yet and the nation depends on his goals. Nevertheless, the three victories in the AFC Asian Cup 2023 qualifier will give further encouragement to India’s progress. If the nation performs well at the AFC Asian Cup next year and Štimac is able to guide India to a world ranking below 100, that would definitely be considered a success and maybe a springboard to greater accomplishments.