England, Mexico give thumbs up to facilities at Salt Lake Stadium
The coaches of England, Mexico and Chile were very impressed with the facilities at the Salt Lake Stadium, which is all set to host their Group F matches of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup.
Representatives of the Group F teams, including Iraq, on Sunday inspected the ground, hotel and training facilities, during their first visit to the city ahead of the October 6- 28 tournament.
Elated to get their matches in Kolkata, England head coach Steve Cooper said they are looking forward to check-in earlier than the FIFA schedule in October first week.
"First impression is very good. It's fantastic, we are absolutely delighted to get our draw here in Kolkata. We have no complaints. There's such a good enthusiasm for football here," Cooper said.
"We have some provisional plans to come here a little bit earlier than the FIFA schedule. It's a life experience as well -- to come to India and experience the culture, everything that comes along with it is a very important experience for the boys."
Mexico interim coach Etchverria Perez Enrique termed the gigantic Saltlake Stadium as "state-of-the-art".
"We are really grateful for all the attention and reception in the city. We have seen the field and the stadium facilities. It's state of the art work. The pitch is of first level. We are pleased to be here," Enrique said.
Chile coach Hernan Caputto also said he is happy to be here in Kolkata. "I love Kolkata's history. The people here are very nice with us. We hope to have some great matches here. The stadium looks beautiful and all new." The Salt Lake Staium will stage five group F matches beginning with Chilie versus England at 5pm and Iraq versus Mexico at 8pm on October 8.
The stadium will host a group E fixture between England and New Caledonia, one pre-quarterfinal, the third place playoff and the summit clash on October 28. Two-time champions Mexico's interim coach Enrique also added that his team's first target in the U-17 World Cup would be to secure a semi final berth. "We have prepared for last six-seven years, to at least to reach the semifinals and hopefully make the final," Enrique told reporters after inspecting the Salt Lake Stadium.
The CONCACAF champions, the 2005 and 2011 champions have appeared in 12 of the 16 editions of the U-17 World Cup and were the runners-up in 2013. In their last appearance in Chile in 2015, they finished fourth after losing to eventual winners Nigeria. Mexico will kick off their campaign against 2016 AFC U-16 winners Iraq, who have appeared in one U-17 World Cup in 2013 when they failed to progress beyond round one. "With the new format, there will be no easy games in the World Cup. Even teams without any history can surprise big sides. Every team will be good. It will be hard. We cannot take any match for granted. We do not underestimate any rival," said Enrique.