New Delhi: In a year when cash-rich ISL created waves and brought Indian football to the notice of the world, its national team slumped to its worst-ever FIFA rankings dropping to 171st in the 209-nation chart.
The world's second most populous country now lies below little-known nations Montserrat in the Caribbeans and Sao Tome Principe in Africa and just a rung above southern neighbours Sri Lanka.
In fact, last month's 170th rank was also the lowest ranking in history before this month's chart. The earlier lowest since FIFA rankings began in 1993 was 169th in November 2012. Among 46 Asian countries, India now ranked 35th.
India, under Dutchman Wim Koevermans, began the year at 156th but slipped 15 places to 171st. It played just two international friendlies, drawing against Bangladesh (2-2) at Margao and losing 2-3 to Palestine in Siliguri.
The national team's flop-show was in complete contrast to the stupendous reception that the marquee ISL got in its inaugural edition.
The ISL straightaway became the fourth most attended league in the world and top managers, including Arsene Wenger of Arsenal, commented about its bright future prospect.
Indian football legend and former captain Bhaichung Bhutia termed the lowest drop in FIFA ranking as unfortunate and painful personally.
"It is really unfortunate that the national team has plummeted to the worst ranking in history. As a former captain and who has played for the country for more than 15 years, it is also really painful to know of this," Bhutia told PTI.
"India's ranking will further go down in the January 2015 FIFA chart as we have played very few international matches this year," he added.