FIFA U-17 World Cup: Gifted Brazil will connect very well with Indian fans
Brazil should enjoy the FIFA U-17 World Cup atmosphere in India and must make a winning start to back their dreams | Columnfifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 06, 2017 11:04 IST
Having been part of the Indian Super League (ISL), I have seen how Brazilian footballers are revered in India. The Selecaos could not have asked for a better place than Kochi to play their FIFA U-17 World Cup group matches. Kerala love the beautiful game and Brazil under-17 football team should feel at ‘home’.
The cities of Mumbai and Rio or Sao Paulo have so much in common. Like India, a certain portion of the Brazilian population too lives in abject poverty. The slums of Mumbai are no different from the flavellas of Sao Paulo and Rio where people live in cramped homes with no facilities like sanitation, water and electricity. But football is such a great binder.
By hosting the FIFA U-17 World Cup, India will grow immensely both as a footballing nation. After the FIFA U-17 World Cup, India will realise how football is an amazing sport. Like cricket, football can make careers too. India deserve this break.
I led Brazil in the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Nigeria. By virtue of our legacy in world football, there is an unseen pressure on the Brazilian team. We arrived in Nairobi as the under-17 champions of South America after beating Argentina in a dramatic shootout where I messed up my spotkick.
But the World Cup is a different cup of tea. In 2009, we were in a group with Switzerland, Mexico and Japan. We beat Japan 3-2 but lost to Mexico 1-0 and versus Switzerland by an identical margin. In spite of having Neymar, we could not progress to the Round of 16. In the final ranking, Brazil ended a disappointing 17th. Switzerland won the championship.
Brazil must make a good start in Kochi. A good win makes a lot of difference because you become confident and opponents will feel the pressure We can be champions this time! This generation of players are very good, they are skillful but must not squander the scoring opportunities.
There must be discipline off the field too. The players must avoid the temptation of spicy Indian food. It can lead to a very uncomfortable experience. Since the humidity levels will be high, drinking proper fluids will be essential. Good luck to the Samba boys!
(Gerson Fraga Vieira, Brazil’s former FIFA U-17 World cup captain, plays for Mumbai City FC in the ISL)