FIFA rankings high delights Chapman

"I remember we were 94 once (February 1996). I was in the team then. It has taken us over 20 years, but I'm glad that we have reached those heights again. Stephen Constantine is doing a great job with this team. We have to be in the top 100; that should be the goal," Chapman said here on Wednesday.

Former India football captain Carlton Chapman at the Bangalore Football Stadium here on Wednesday   -  Shreedutta Chidananda

The last time India was this high up in the FIFA rankings, Carlton Chapman was an integral part of the team's midfield. When earlier this month the National team moved up 31 places to 101 in the world - its best position since May 1996 - Chapman was delighted no end. "I remember we were 94 once (February 1996). I was in the team then. It has taken us over 20 years, but I'm glad that we have reached those heights again. Stephen Constantine is doing a great job with this team. We have to be in the top 100; that should be the goal," he said here on Wednesday.

Chapman was on a short visit back home from Delhi, where he is now chief coach at the second Division I-League club Sudeva FC. The team did not have a great time of it in the 2016-17 second Division I-League, finishing bottom of Group A in the preliminary round, but this was its first season of competitive football. "We were making our debut. We fielded only young players, with an average age of 21. We had two foreign players but both of them were injured early on," he pointed out.

Sudeva has ambitious plans for its first team and academy. The club bid for a spot in the 2017 I-League, responding to the AIFF's tender for direct entries, but was unsuccessful. The fully residential academy, meanwhile, can accommodate a hundred players from across age groups. "We have 34 kids now. We are looking for talent from across the country. We have teams in the AIFF's U-18 I-League and U-16 Youth League, plus U-13 and U-11 teams," said Chapman.

The 45-year-old, who also coached at the Tata Football Academy, Royal Wahingdoh and Bhawanipore FC, felt summer 'soccer schools' run by European clubs offered young Indian players little value. "You spend so much but what do you do once you come back after a month?" Chapman asked. "Our academy is full-time. If the players are good enough they automatically have a pathway to play in the National leagues and get into the first team."

For more information on the Sudeva academy, call 9042050247.

  Dugout videos