(Reuters) - Factbox on the India team ahead of the Asian Cup, which takes place in the United Arab Emirates from Jan. 5 to Feb. 1:
FIFA world ranking: 97
Ranking in Asia: 15
Previous Asian Cups: 3
Best performance: Runners-up (1964)
2015: Did not qualify
Nickname: Blue Tigers
Coach: Stephen Constantine
Regular captain: Sunil Chhetri
Player to watch: Udanta Singh
Sept 9 India 2-0 Maldives Dhaka
Sept 12 India 3-1 Pakistan Dhaka
Sept 15 Maldives 2-1 India Dhaka
Oct 13 China 0-0 India Suzhou
Nov 17 Jordan 2-1 India Amman
Jan 6 Thailand v India Abu Dhabi
Jan 10 India v UAE Abu Dhabi
Jan 14 India v Bahrain Sharjah
India are hoping to use their Asian Cup participation as a building block to realise their 2026 World Cup qualification dream but doubts linger over their preparation as they return to next month’s continental showpiece in the UAE.
Cricket-loving India has a population of 1.3 billion but it is a massive underachiever as far as football is concerned.
India’s fourth participation in the Asian Cup should be looked as a precursor to their goal of achieving a berth in the World Cup for the first time by 2026, according to All India Football Federation President Praful Patel.
Compiled by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly