FIFA U-17 World Cup: Sunil Chhetri advises Indian team to ‘soak in experience’
Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri has a few words of advise for his young compatriots who are set to represent the country at the FIFA U-17 World Cup.Updated: Sep 25, 2017 12:24 IST
The FIFA U-17 World Cup is just round the corner and along with the young footballers, the tournament will also be a huge test for first time hosts, India. This will be the first time India will be hosting a FIFA tournament and senior team skipper Sunil Chhetri thinks that this competition will test the country’s ability to organise a big ticket event.
The India U-17 football team is placed in Group A alongside two-time champions Ghana, United States of America and Latin American heavyweights Colombia. The side, which will be led by midfielder Amarjit Singh Kiyam, will start its campaign against USA on October 6 and Chhetri believes that a good performance in this competition will go a long way in establishing India’s name in world football.
Talking to Hindustan Times, India’s all-time top goalscorer Chhetri explained the challenges India face ahead of the FIFA U-17 World Cup and what the country should expect from young footballers representing the nation.
What is the biggest challenge for India as it gets ready to host such a big tournament?
The U-17 World Cup is going to be a test on more than just one front. It’s no mean task to host an event of this magnitude, even if it is for a junior age group. It will be a test of India’s ability to organise a big ticket event and I believe we will do well. Everyone in the country needs to come together to make it a successful event. The world will be watching and we cannot afford to fall short on any front.
Infrastructure-wise, how will you rate India’s preparation ahead of the event?
I haven’t been as clued-up to be honest, but I’ve been reading that the organising committee is on track. I recently saw an image of the refurbished Salt Lake Stadium and it looked fantastic. I hope every venue rises to the occasion. This is a stage where stars of the future will be on display and we need to give them the best stage to shine.
How big an impact will this tournament have on Indian football?
It’s the first time we are hosting an event of this magnitude. It’s also the first time an Indian team will be taking part in a football World Cup and that is very special. There is nice little buzz floating around and that needs to spread as we draw closer to the event. For all those of us who moan that India is far behind when it comes to world football, this is a big chance to step up and support the cause.
What is your expectation from the India U-17 football team?
The boys are at an age where this experience will be all that matters. It’s of no use to go into the tournament with any sort of pressure and we should not burden them with unfair expectations.
What is your advice for the young players taking part in the tournament?
The stage is big and the opponents are stronger but the key here is to make the most of every minute of the tournament. The boys need to go out there, put in to action all they have been training for and soak in all the lessons the Cup will teach them. The results will take care of themselves.
First Published: Sep 25, 2017 12:24 IST