Can India expect magic in 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup?
India U-17 Football team will start their historic journey on October 6, playing against the USA U-17 side. This is the first time India will be playing a FIFA tournament.
The Indian team is placed in Group A, alongside the United States of America, Colombia, and Ghana. All these three opponents are going to be a major challenge for the Indian side. The top two teams from each group and four best-third-placed teams will qualify for the next round.
What importance does this tournament hold for India?
Apart from the fact that India have never played in a world cup, there are other important things through which this tournament will help improve the football scenario in India.
It is arguably the most important part of a player's career. It is similar to the argument of theory and its application. While things look perfect in theory, most of the times they are different in actual conditions. Similarly, merely training players cannot give them any idea about how top internationals play the game. This tournament will help the Indian players know how it feels like to play against the best football teams in the world.
Football is slowly becoming a major sport in India, but it is nothing compared to cricket. The U-17 players have not played any game in the presence of a huge crowd supporting them. It will be the first time they would be playing a game in home conditions and a huge home audience.
Recently, Bhaichung Bhutia and Sunil Chhetri were quoted saying that they are happy for the players who are receiving such a huge exposure at a young age. Sunil Chhetri said that a tournament like this can provide the experience of 15 years of playing domestic football.
Bhaichung Bhutia also agreed to the fact that this tournament will help produce great football talent in India. He also said that a tournament like this could have helped him become a great football player. This is a huge statement because it came from a player who is already known as a hero of Indian Football.
Can India expect magic?
Realistically speaking, it would be a great luck for the Indian side even if they manages to play draw in all of the games. The USA is a pretty strong opponent, and so is Colombia and Ghana. It won't be humiliating for the Indian team even if they face a 3-0 loss in their very first match against USA.
Colombia and Ghana are returning after a long absence in this tournament, and it could be a little helpful for India. However, both these teams are still pretty strong for India and a victory against them is highly unlikely.
Qualifying from the group stage to the next round is something that the Indian fans can wish for, but are not likely to see.
While the stats and figures are all against the Indian side, we should know that football is a game of uncertainties, and there is no opponent strong enough in front of a strong will to win the match.
The crowd is expected to give a huge morale boost to the home side, and we should know that it doesn't take much time to create history. There have been countless instances where we have seen underdogs overperform, and it won't be shocking if the India U-17 team does the same in this tournament.