FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017: Stepping stone for Indian football, says coach Luis Norton de Matos

The fact that India are hosting and participating in the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 for the first time is wonderful but it needs to be followed up with more work, said coach Luis Norton de Matos.

fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 06, 2017 10:09 IST
Shayne Dias
Shayne Dias
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
FIFA U-17 World Cup,FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017,Luis Norton de Matos
Coach Luis Norton de Matos stays quite realistic about India’s chances at the FIFA U-17 World Cup.(AIFF)

The FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 will be a historic one for India as the nation will take part in a FIFA tournament for the first time ever.

This is something that is not lost on India’s U-17 football team coach Luis Norton de Matos, who is looking forward to the tournament with as much enthusiasm as Indian fans.

“It’s a big deal for India to participate in this tournament. I’m very excited about this because we have worked very hard for this,” said de Matos at a press conference in Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium ahead of India’s opening FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 game against USA in which AIFF president Praful Patel was present.

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“This will be the first step towards making India a proper footballing nation and I am very excited to be a part of this project,” he added.

And de Matos remains realistic about his sides’ chances of making it out of the group stages, given the quality of Group A.

“USA, Ghana, Colombia are all teams at a big level. But I feel we are well prepared. Our players know what to expect when the game begins. USA are a strong side that play attacking football with good individuals, and they are a very physical team. We will look to negate their strengths by playing as a team,” said de Matos.

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“Football is an unpredictable game and we will fight hard.”

De Matos hopes this tournament will be a catalyst for change at the grassroots level for Indian football, something which is necessary for the evolution of the sport in the country.

“We need to play more. In Portugal and other European countries, they start playing at seven years of age in school. We need to make it the same here.”

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Given that the tournament is happening in India, both De Matos and FIFA U-17 World Cup captain Amarjit Singh spoke about the impact that home support will have on the side.

“We will give our all for our nation, but fans are necessary,” said Amarjit Singh.

First Published: Oct 05, 2017 22:05 IST