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FIFA U-17 World Cup: India’s exit, start of a journey; rich tributes flow in

The Indian team crashed out of the FIFA U-17 World Cup on Thursday night but it was a moment for several Indians to take pride in.

fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 13, 2017 11:56 IST
Devarchit Varma
Devarchit Varma
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
FIFA U-17 World Cup,FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017,Indian football team
India for the first time ever took part in a major FIFA tournament. FIFA U-17 World Cup is being held in the country from October 6 to 28.(HT Photo)

It was the end of a historic journey that ended in expected disappointment when the Indian football team bowed out of the FIFA U-17 World Cup following a 0-4 defeat to Ghana in their Group A match in New Delhi on Thursday night.

The Indian U-17 boys created history for becoming the first team from the country to take part in a FIFA event — an automatic entry into the league of the best players and teams since India hosted the tournament for the first time ever.

READ | FIFA U-17 World Cup: India football coach admits gap with world is huge

From creating history by hosting matches at two most farthest venues within a country — the distance between Kochi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and Guwahati’s Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium being of a mind boggling 2,431 kilometres — India took giant strides.

The young Jeakson Singh’s header that provided India its first ever goal, against Colombia, in a major FIFA tournament will always be etched in the memories of even those who follow the sport from a distance in a cricket-mad country.

Wishes kept pouring in from fans and celebrities alike with an avalanche of support coming the Indian U-17 team. HT takes a look at some of the best reactions over the last few days:

READ | FIFA U-17 World Cup: Ghana thrash India 4-0, end their journey

Cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle put the sentiment of many Indian football fans perfectly:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present at the tournament’s inaugural match for the hosts, when India took on USA.

Post India’s exit from the tournament, India and Bengaluru FC goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh summed up the feeling perfectly.

The official account of All India Football Federation (AIFF) acknowledged this was just a start and Indian football has many glorious days to witness.

FIFA too praised India’s efforts in hosting the tournament and giving a tough run to their opposition teams.

Indian cricketer Rohit Sharma presented the young footballers with the most important message of ‘enjoying the game’ before the tournament.

India’s Olympic medal winner Yogeshwar Dutt took the opportunity to claim that the country is becoming a ‘sporting nation’.

Kerala Blasters’ CK Vineeth enjoyed the whole tournament and had unbridled support for the young players.

In his message before the tournament, cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar had appealed the young players to ‘chase their dreams’.

Irrespective of the defeats, the India U-17 football team won the hearts of one and all.

The FIFA U-17 World Cup will conclude October 28 in Kolkata.

First Published: Oct 13, 2017 11:32 IST