With 238 days to go until the start of the FIFA U-17 World Cup football 2017, Indian sports minister Vijay Goel and All India Football Federation (AIFF) chief Praful Patel, revealed a clouded leopard called ‘Kheleo’ as the official mascot of the tournament at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Frodau.
To commemorate Kheleo’s first public appearance, Vijay Goel said, “We are sure that he will be one of the most memorable mascots a sporting event in India has ever seen. Kheleo is young, vibrant, enthusiastic and a perfect representation of our country. He will help us to involve kids with football in a fun way.”
On the other hand, Praful Patel was at loss of words when he was asked about the reason behind Nicolai Adam’s removal as the coach of the national under-17 team. The federation had asked the German coach to step down from his position just months before the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Patel, however, stood firm saying federation’s decision to part ways with the German expert was the best amicable solution under the given circumstances.
“The friction between the coach and players had reached a level where it was difficult to reconcile. It wasa hostile atmosphere when we received the complaints from the players. We acted swiftly. It was best in the interest of the team”, he said.
He also asserted that Nicolai Adam’s exit will have no impact on the performance of the team.
“Plans are afoot to appoint new coach as early as possible. When the new coach joins the team, to bridge the gap between him and players we will take the services of football icon Bhaichung Bhutia and former players,” was his logic to put things on track.
AIFF president said, nation should join hands with the federation to support the movement. “Our national team should qualify for 2022 World Cup,” he added.