India have already won U-17 World Cup: FIFA deputy secy
New Delhi: India are already the winners irrespective of how the results pan out on the field, says FIFA's deputy secretary and Croatian football legend Zvonimir Boban, as the country gears up to host the U-17 World Cup.
"Regardless of the actual results on the pitch, India are already winners as they have been able to prepare this event.Football has taken over, and the Indian players are benefitting from a unique experience," Boban, who captained Croatia to a remarkable third-place finish at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, said in an interview.
While India could have drawn much bigger teams, USA, Ghana and Colombia are formidable opponents at this age group.
Boban led a team that included Golden Boot winner Davor Suker.
When asked how crucial the host nation's performance could be in the tournament, the 48-year-old added, "Today, the FIFA U-17 World Cup is difficult for all teams as the level of football has steadily increased in recent years. Boban, who played as an attacking midfielder, said football infrastructure will benefit immensely from the tournament.
"Football infrastructure is indeed one of the aspects that will benefit from the FIFA U-17 World Cup. On one hand, the improved infrastructure will facilitate the development of football in India at all levels, and on the other it will represent a great opportunity for club administrators, scouts and other football stakeholders to visit India, feel and experience the passion of the Indian football community and re-think their future strategies concerning India's involvement.
"The AIFF, LOC and government efforts have been great and the current infrastructure will surely benefit the football structure in the years to come."
A winner of four Serie A titles besides a UEFA Champions League triumph with AC Milan, Boban felt the tournament could help develop a strong senior national team.