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FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017: India to play 2 friendlies in Goa before World Cup; Asian, African teams lined up

Sagnik Kundu
FEATURED COLUMNIST
News
1.09K   //    12 Sep 2017, 11:43 IST

The Indian U-17 team with Sunil Chhetri (image source: Indian Express)

What’s the story?

The Indian under-17 team will play at least two friendlies in Goa ahead of next month’s World Cup, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has confirmed.

The first of the two friendlies, against Malaysia or Singapore, is likely to be played later this week, while the second will be played against African giants Mali or South Africa just before the team heads to Delhi on September 25.

AIFF general secretary Kushal Das was quoted by the Times of India as saying, “We are trying to organise two friendlies in Goa but we have not confirmed the opposition. We should have a clearer picture in the next couple of days. We want to have either Malaysia or Singapore for the first friendly while we are trying to get African opponents for the second friendly.

Furthermore, contrasting reports from people in the know suggest that the AIFF is planning to set-up a camp in the UAE for U-17 team alongside Mali, New Zealand, USA, Guinea, and Iran. Whether that or the AIFF's Goa plan goes ahead, it will only serve to improve the Indian Colts' chances at the U-17 World Cup.

In case you didn’t know…

In case you have been living under a rock, India will feature in their first ever FIFA tournament when they host the U-17 World later next month. In order to prepare for the tournament and get the necessary exposure, the U-17 team have been playing a lot of friendlies around the world. Now, the Indian federation is keen on a couple of more friendlies before the big tournament.

The heart of the matter

According to the report, sources close to the AIFF have revealed that the federation is keen on having Singapore as India’s opponents for the first friendly. Having played Malaysia already in the AIFF Youth Cup last year, the federation prefers newer opponents. Moreover, Singapore had recently deputed their Under-19 team for friendlies in Goa.

However, the source added that Singapore might not be able to make it as the clubs were refusing to release their players.

The second friendly, though, in all probability will be against South Africa. But even that is subject to the AIFF agreeing to their conditions of paying for everything, including flight tickets.

Mali, who will feature in the World Cup, are ready to arrive here earlier and get a feel of the conditions. But India coach Luis Norton de Matos is not keen on facing such a strong opposition just days before the World Cup.

What’s next?

India begin their campaign at the World Cup against the United States of America on 6th October 2017. They will then play Colombia and Ghana in their remaining group fixtures.

Author’s take

Goa may have been denied the opportunity to host the league matches that will feature India but the fans here can still watch the future stars in action if the friendlies do happen.

For the team, a couple of good games ahead of the tournament will do the world of good as they will be able to assess where they stand and what they need to work on.

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Sagnik Kundu
FEATURED COLUMNIST
I spend every day at office wondering how they got the table through the door.
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