With a string of losses, is India ready for the U-17 World Cup?
There has been a lot of good news for football fans across the country in the last year. India's FIFA rankings have risen to 129. Considering that in 2015 (March), India's rankings was at an all time low of 173, there has been considerable improvement. I-League teams performing well in the AFC Cup has also helped the football cause and in much fan fare India was named as the host nation for the U-17 World Cup which is scheduled to be held in October later this year.
The BRICS U-17 which was the first edition was held last year in Goa where the Indian boys took on Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa. There was a lot of fanfare especially since it was the first time India scored against Brazil although they were defeated 3-1. India still however finished bottom of the table but the boys put in a good effort throughout the tournament. There were many positives to take out from the tournament but unfortunately the Granatkin Cup which the India U-17 team recently contested in saw them once again finish at the bottom of the table. There is no denying that India is a long way from the prowess of most footballing nations who have dominated the global scene. The tournament which saw 16 nations from all over the world take part saw India winning just one match against Belarus. This is not encouraging news for fans and with less than 10 months to go to the U-17 World Cup. The match against Russia where India was thrashed 8-0 was especially distressing given that they also lost to 10 men Tajikistan (1-0).
Apparently this team has been training since 2013, but results from matches do not reflect this and with limited time on their hands, it will be interesting to see if Stephen Constantine can turn things around and get the boys ready before the World Cup.
Despite the poor performances, it is exciting for fans who are ecstatic that India will host such a big global event and with Guwahati also being selected as one of the host cities, the entire Northeast region will definitely head out to Assam to witness some world class football and get a glimpse of the future stars of football. Hopefully the U-17 boys will also be able to give fans something to cheer about as they have the whole country behind them.
Featured image(courtesy): Welcome to All India Football Federation