Since taking the helm of Indian football, Igor Stimac has shown strong determination to turning India into a football powerhouse.
Igor Stimac has been in the football field for a long period where he has made remarkable strides. For instance, under his captaincy, Croatian beat Holland to earn a third-place at the 1998 World Cup. Also as a manager, he led Croatia to the 2014 World Cup together with the likes of Luka Modric, the Real Madrid star.
Now he is faced with a major challenge in his career - to transform the Indian football and World Cup qualifier.
Football is among the games that enjoy much following around the globe, India included. Indian football fans have been flocking to betting sites such as ComeOn betting to try their luck during international games such as the Olympics.
But the Indian football performance has been wanting for many years as compared to other games like cricket or kabaddi. However, this is bound to change if efforts by the new coach are anything to go by.
How India’s Football Team Has Been Performing
Unlike many countries around the globe where football is the most popular game, cricket is the most popular game in India. In fact, football in India does not even play the second fiddle after cricket. It is fifth behind badminton, athletics, and cycling in no particular order.
The most celebrated sports heroes include the cricket captain Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, hockey legends like Dyan Chand and badminton players PV Sindhu and Sania Nehwal.
India has not at any time won an Olympic football medal but has clinched 8 hockey Olympic gold medals. The best result the football team has ever shown at the Olympics is when they reached the semifinals in 1956.
The blue tigers have participated in four Olympic games. The closest the Indian team has ever made in the World Cup was in 1950 in Brazil when they qualified by default after Indonesia, Philippines and Burma withdrew from the games.
Attempts by Brazil to make India represent Asia were not successful.
Nevertheless, the Indian football team has never participated in the World Cup final and has not been at the Olympics since 1960.
FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers
While you would think that the 2022 World Cup is far, the journey has already started for many countries.
Just recently India played against Bangladesh in a 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup qualifying match. The match was played at Kolkata Salt Stadium. This was the third match India participated in regard to 2022 World Cup qualifiers. The Indian team lost to Oman in a close tie and held Qatar to 0-0 draw in Doha.
The 2022 World Cup qualifier began on 6th June 2019, when the lowest-ranked teams in India played against each other in the preliminary round. By March 2022, when the period for qualification process gets over, 211 nations from six confederations of FIFA will have taken part.
Europe, which many see as the toughest region to qualify from, will start their qualifiers in March 2021. 55 countries will be competing for the 13 slots allocated for Europe. They will be split into ten pools with winners from each group qualifying directly for the World Cup.
What are India’s chances at the World Cup?
One would assume that India has no chance to qualify for the World, but that remains to be seen. The country is ranked 104 and is placed in Group E, together with Oman, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and the host Qatar. In 2015, the AFC combined the Asian Cup and World Cup qualifiers in a bid to give more countries an opportunity to play. Therefore, the eight Asian group winners and the four runners-up will take part in the 2nd round of the World Cup qualifiers as well as secure spots for the 2023 continental championship in China.
The remaining teams will compete for a place at the Asian Cup.
India has done their best during the 1st two qualifiers matches. They lost to Oman 2-1, which is ranked higher in a match played at home. They later held the 2022 World Cup host Qatar to 0-0 draw after an extensive defense performance.
Many consider this the best results India has shown in this century. Many are now waiting to see whether India can show better performance than other teams in Group E.