Dreaming big for Indian football!

India is now at its highest ever FIFA ranking of 97. The number of teams making it to World Cup 2022 is expected to be 48. If we can improve our rankings in every other sport and reach the top, why can’t we qualify for the football World Cup by 2026?

The Indian football team before the start of the match against Kenya at the Hero Intercontinental Cup in Mumbai on June 4, 2018. There is an upswing in the team’s performances and the Indian tricolour is really flying high.   -  PTI

World Cup 2026. The Tricolour is flying high with pride in the galleries. A country of 1.3 billion people are cheering for their favourite team. The chant I N D I A ... I N D I A... I N D I A... keeps reverbrating in the stands. We all stand up to the National Anthem being played. The moment has finally arrived. India is playing against Japan in their first ever match in the World Cup after securing a position through the qualifiers. All this sounds heady, but this may not be just a dream.

If we listen to one of the greatest Indian minds — “Dream is not the thing you see in sleep but is that thing that does not let you sleep.” — Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.

A decade ago in India, cricket was the most preferred sport. Almost every other kid in India wanted to play cricket. The scenario is changing rapidly. Many kids now are willing to watch as well as play football instead of cricket. The impressive performance of our youngsters in the Under-17 World Cup has given a glimmer of hope that we can compete with the best teams in the world. Also thanks to some very competent coaches and very good infrastructure, the youngsters are getting groomed from a very early age.

The results are slowly showing up. The win against Argentina (2-1) in an Under-20 match was a huge moment for Indian football. Also the Under-16 squad winning against Iraq (1-0) was great. The performance of the Under-17 team in World Cup 2017 held in India was also highly impressive.

It’s high time the senior squad under talismanic striker and captain Sunil Chhetri do something as astonishing. In recent times they have proved their worth by going past Kenya, New Zealand and Chinese Taipei with ease to win the 2017 Hero International Cup. All of these can add up to more consistent and winning performances in the coming days.

India is now at its highest ever FIFA ranking of 97. The number of teams making it to World Cup 2022 is expected to be 48 . If we can improve our rankings in every other sport and reach the top, why can’t we qualify for the football World Cup by 2026? We sure can if we believe in the dream and work hard towards achieving it.

The author is a student in Class 7 in DPS Newtown, Kolkata.