Friday, June 25, 2010

Should India Do Better?

According to the excellent book Why England Lose or Soccernomics in the United States, countries that have large populations and good economies should do well in international football. This brings the question, why have India only qualified for 1 World Cup, which they didn't even play in? India has a large population and a fairly good economy despite high poverty levels. What gives?
According to Why England Loses, and regression research done by the authors, twice the population is worth .1 goal, twice the GDP is worth .1 goal, and having twice the experience is worth .5 goals.
To tally the goal scoring, you figure out the ratio of, for example, population of country/population of opposition and multiply the coefficient for either population, GDP or experience. For population and GDP, the coefficient is .05, for experience, it is .25.
According to Russell Gerrard's database, between 1871 and 2001, India had played 244 international football matches. I will compare India with the country that has qualified the most for the World Cup, South Korea, and with Iran, who have qualified 3 times and won the Asian Cup 3 times.
India have a massive advantage in population, 1.2 goals. South Korea has .4 goal advantage in GDP and .6 in experience. India should win by .2 goals, meaning most games between the 2 should end in a draw. So we know India should draw with South Korea. Should they've qualified for the World Cup?
In the first round they lost to Lebanon 6-3 on aggregate; using the same method described earlier, India should be beating Lebanon by 14.5 goals, with a massive 13 of them coming from the superiority in population. Over 2 legs, that should be 29 goals, instead of losing by the 3 goals they did. Replacing Lebanon in Group 4, they should beat Uzbekistan at home (.67 goals for home field advantage) by 3.8 goals at home, and 2.43 goals away. Against Saudi Arabia
they should beat them at home by 2 goals, and win away by .7 goals (anything less than .5 is about a draw). Moving on to playing Singapore, which, having a small population and less experience than India, loses by 12.2 goals to India away and by 10.8 goals at home. India, having won all 6 games, have 18 points and a goal difference of 32.

They are then drawn into Group B, with South Korea, North Korea, Iran and the UAE.
We already know in a neutral venue they should beat South Korea by .2 goals. Adding home field advantage, they'll beat South Korea by .9 goals at home, but lose by .5 goals away, which is effectively a draw. Against North Korea, they should win by 3.7 goals at home and by 2.3 goals away. Against Iran they win by 1 goal at home, and draw away. Finally, against the UAE they should win by 9.8 goals at home and by 8.5 goals away. Tallying up the results, India would finish with 20 points and a goal difference of 25. If this happened, they would qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

India should do better. In Why England Lose, they were one of the underachievers based on population, GDP and experience. India can create a good football team if they create a good league, which they can do for cricket, as they did for the Indian Premier League. Based on this, India should become a powerhouse team in Asia, and could possibly win the World Cup in the future.

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