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India earn top FIFA seat, eye 2026 World Cup

06 April 2019, MVT 22:20
FIFA president Gianni Infantino receives pennant from AFC senior vice president Praful Patel during the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Congress 2019 in Kuala Lumpur on April 6, 2019. (Photo by SADIQ ASYRAF / AFP)
06 April 2019, MVT 22:20

India set their sights on qualifying for the 2026 World Cup as Praful Patel became their first representative on the powerful FIFA Council on Saturday.

Patel, one of six Asian delegates elected to the Council at the Asian Football Confederation Congress, said the World Cup was the next big step for India after making great strides in recent years.

India's confidence has grown after a positive Asian Cup in January, where they returned to the tournament after eight years and were unlucky not to reach the second round.

"I personally feel that among all the countries in Asia there is a tremendous goodwill for India, and (also) China should be much more involved in the game and also the AFC and FIFA," Patel said in Kuala Lumpur.

"We should be putting our best efforts to make sure that the Indian team qualifies in 2026 for the World Cup," he added.

However, India are also searching for a new coach after Englishman Stephen Constantine quit following their Asian Cup exit after a last-gasp defeat to Bahrain.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | AFP

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