Can India ever qualify for the FIFA World Cup? – Why & When?

Recently, the world rose in unison to boost up the Indian football team’s morale over its upcoming participation in the Asia cup. Bundesliga players like Mario Goetze, Claudio Pizarro, and Yann Sommer wished the team in a video mentioning players like Sunil Chhetri and Anirudh Thapa.

All this excitement and uproar has led to the widely speculated and much-asked questions; Will India ever qualify for the prestigious FIFA World Cup? By when could the fans expect the Blue Tigers to run rampant in the much-celebrated tournament.

Though not many are aware, India once did qualify to play in the FIFA World Cup in the 1950s but had to withdraw its participation due to budget restraints and other reasons. The story of its withdrawal due to players playing barefoot, though denied by the then captain, is much famous.

Coming to the present, India does have a chance to qualify for the World Cup, though unfortunately, not in the coming 2022 one, to be held in Qatar.

The reasons for this are many.

Ranking 97th in the world, the team can boost its position through the Asia cup. Even advancing in the rounds and not winning, due to teams like Korea, Japan, Australia, the team can guarantee its place in the qualifiers.

Though the team is at its greatest right now, passing the qualifiers would be near impossible, but even advancing there will be a start and a good morale boost.

Though one thing cannot be denied, the football condition in India is at its peak right now. What with successfully hosting the U-17 FIFA World Cup and the ongoing craze about the Asia Cup, football fever has come up over the nation. A frenzy of support has risen to the horizon. The sport is being valued more and more all over the country, fans pouring in the stadiums for matches, cheering the players and appreciating the results.

Not to be forgotten, Indian Soccer League has been giving players the much-needed exposure, experience, and a chance to play with international players. It has been a turning point for the football of India, making the sport it’s deserved standing. What with youth training academies spouting all over the nation, the future of football seems bright here.

Thus, one can certainly expect something from the Indian national team in the coming years.

By 2026, most current players would be at the peak of their careers. Players like Jackichand Singh and Sandesh Jhingan would be stars in their international careers. Also, players like Anirudh Thapa and Anwar Ali will be seasoned enough to play responsibly for the country. The star players of the U-17 team would then be bringing the youth factor in the team.

The ISL would have further polished the players’ skills, alongside giving them the international competitive experience.

All in all, by 2026, the Indian national team would be ready to play alongside the world and give a challenging fight.

Thus, India can be expected to play in the 2026 FIFA World Cup, if the positive growth in the above factors keep on rising and factors such as bureaucracy and politics don’t form a barrier.

Moreover, the qualification process will be changed to an increase to 48 teams playing in the World Cup, which will give Asia about 8-9 teams to select.

And India currently ranks 12th in the Asian ranking. By that time, we can certainly expect it to come in the top 8 teams, thus qualifying it a place.

Therefore, judging positively, the Blue Tigers can hopefully play in the 2026 World Cup, event millions of fans would certainly like to see.

Ishan Chauhan