FIFA U-17 World Cup: Given a choice, it will be toss-up between France and Brazil | fifa-u17-world-cup-2017 | Hindustan Times
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FIFA U-17 World Cup: Given a choice, it will be toss-up between France and Brazil

Iran have been the surprise package in the ongoing FIFA U-17 World Cup but France and Brazil look good to go all the way.

fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 17, 2017 08:42 IST
Brazil will take on Honduras in their Round of 16 clash of the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Brazil will take on Honduras in their Round of 16 clash of the FIFA U-17 World Cup. (AFP )

The league stage is done and it’s the business end of the FIFA U-17 World Cup. One team that has caught my attention during the group stage is Iran. To be drawn in a group with football powerhouse Germany and Costa Rica, they were probably expected at best, to get the third spot.

But their demolition of Costa Rica and Germany was something unexpected. They undoubtedly played exhilarating football. As much as it was unexpected from Iran, it must have been equally very special for them. But the tournament doesn’t end here – in fact it starts now. Iran should go past Mexico in the round of 16 but they will have an uphill task facing either France or Spain next.

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As far as India is concerned, let’s be honest that the Indian lads were drawn into a very hard group. But they can be monumentally proud of how they showed up and represented the country. To be the first team to represent India in a World Cup and to score in front of their people is a massive achievement.

They can honestly all go back to their families and friends with their heads held high, knowing they gave it all. And a very special congratulations to Jeakson Singh for becoming India’s first ever World Cup goal scorer!

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They should cherish this experience of playing in front of big crowds against some of the best youth players in the world every day of their lives. Their careers are only in their infancy and I’m sure that with the experience they have gained through this, and if they continue to believe in themselves, this is just the beginning.

On the other hand, Brazil, Spain and England have also been very impressive with their performances, quality and control. But I quite like the pace with which France and Ghana attack opponents. Though Brazil are the favourites, France and Ghana are equally dangerous.

(Read | FIFA U-17 World Cup: Dominant Germany slam four past Colombia to make quarters)

In the past, African nations have always dominated age-group football as they are more physically developed at this age than a majority of other countries. But, with everyone catching up, the playing field and competition has become a lot more even.

That in turn has made the matches more competitive and tournament more entertaining. That’s the reason why five-time champion and title defenders Nigeria’s absence hasn’t really taken the sheen off the competition this time.

(Read | Jadon Sancho out of FIFA U-17 World Cup but England not downbeat against Japan)

Obviously, you always want to see the champions defending their crown, but you can’t say that there’s been a lack of entertainment or quality without them. So far it’s been a tournament with some very impressive displays.

That’s also the reason why it is difficult to pick the winner in this edition of the World Cup. There is a list of contenders to be honest. England will be looking to add to their impressive U-20 World Cup win.

Brazil are as always, stepping up to the plate on the big occasion. Also the impressive dominance of the French team can’t go unnoticed. If I have to make a choice, then it has to be a toss-up between France and Brazil.

It is exciting time for football fans in India. Things have started to move in the right direction. India has to continue developing the game and infrastructure for the next five, 10, 15 years and more for football to meet it’s true potential.

(Iain Hume is ISL’s all-time highest goal scorer with 23 goals)