The FIFA Under-17 World Cup will be the All India Football Federation (AIFF)’s toughest examination, its vice-president Subrata Dutta said on Thursday.
“The overall development in Indian football starting from grassroots to talent scouting going global to referees and coaches development has resulted in recognition from AFC at their annual awards as the most developing nation in Asia in 2016,” Dutta said.
“With infrastructure and facilities reaching to such heights and considerable raise in standard of the national teams, all the football lovers may have high hopes to see India as a football power to reckon with in the near future only if we come out with flying colours in our final exam in 2017.”
The youth showpiece event will start from October 6 next year and continue till October 28. The draw is on July 7.
Six venues have been ratified which include Kolkata, Delhi, Navi Mumbai, Guwahati, Kochi and Goa.
“2016 was the year of preparations for Indian football to appear in the final exam in 2017,” stressed Dutta when asked to sum up the year which has seen Goan clubs pull out of the I-League due to “lack of vision” from the AIFF which along with its commercial and marketing partners Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) are mulling a revamp of the football structure.
The U-17 team, coached by German Nicolai Adam, has been a bright spot with their performances abroad catching the eye. The BRICS Cup show against Brazil was the highlight.
“Contributions of Goan clubs cannot be denied. Their shying away from I-League has been a blow to Indian football which has been much compensated by the inclusion of new corporate sides like Chennai City FC and Minerva Punjab FC.”
“Bengaluru FC’s performance of winning the I-League twice and qualifying to the final of AFC Cup, within the first 3 years of their inception, has proved beyond doubt the victory of professionalism over traditionalism,” Dutta said.
“Bank of Baroda has come forward to be a national supporter of the World Cup with a whopping amount of sponsorship of Rs10 crore. The team is doing well too and we are hopeful,” Dutta signed off.