India are favourites to qualify to the round of 16 in the AFC Asian Cup. India are the need of world football. Going into their last group stage match, Sunil Chhetri and his team have received the lavish praise from former England coach Sven–Göran Eriksson, the coach to guide England to the 2002 FIFA World Cup quarter-finals.
Sven-Göran Eriksson, coach of the Philippines national team in the AFC Asian Cup, is impressed with India’s 4-1 triumph over Thailand. The Swede also confesses that he did not expect India to do that well. “It would be very good. Especially when the country’s No.1 sport is not football. I hope the whole of India talked about you (Indian football team) beating Thailand,” ESPN has reported him as saying.
There is a heartening comment for the future of Indian football. “Football needs you”. He wanted to see countries like India, China and the United States compete with the best in Europe in the next 10 to 15 years.
“World Cup… you shouldn’t say this…but unfortunately, it’s like the Euro and you put in Argentina and Brazil. That’s the teams who can win it. And I hope for football that changes. I’m talking about India, China, United States. Big countries, but football hasn’t changed. How many Messis do you have in India if they had the chance to play?
“It’s not that India, China and the United States need football, but football needs these three countries. Because it will be even bigger.
“In football, you know you can have big luck, (and) you win 1-0. But you (India) dominated the game and you scored four goals. Wow!” he said. “The whole world who saw that match (felt) they were physically good, technically good players. Working hard. And maybe Thailand was….I’m sure they were surprised with what’s going on here. And if you are not 100 percent, it’s difficult to change to win the game. All merit to India.”
India was placed 97th in the FIFA global rankings on December 20. The team had achieved its best ranking of 94 in 23 years ago in February 1996.