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FIFA U-17 World Cup: India are not the lowest ranked team at the World Cup; they've got company

The likes of New Zealand and the USA haven't done much better.


The India U-17 team
The India U-17 team

The FIFA Under-17 World Cup is barely two months away and India is all geared up to welcome the world in a first of its kind event in the country. India has never hosted a FIFA tournament and neither has its national football team played at any FIFA World Cup finals, senior or age-group.

Therefore, it is no surprise that the Indian Under-17 team are among the lower rung sides at the World Cup. However, they are not the lowest ranked team who will be part of the FIFA U-17 World Cup. They have company in the form of one team from Oceania and another from Africa.

Both New Caledonia and Niger will come into the U-17 World Cup as tournament debutants and will have their first taste of the tournament in India. Similar to India, they can't be clubbed with elite-level teams like Brazil and Mexico, who are considered prime contenders for the World Cup.

Brazil have won the cup three times while Mexico have done it twice. In contrast, let alone qualifying for the senior World Cup, India, New Caledonia and Niger haven't even kicked a ball at the U-17 World Cup. That shows how diverse the field will be at the U-17 World Cup.

Along with Niger and New Caledonia, India will also be host to a few countries whose record at U-17 World Cups is as poor as the three newbies. Teams like Iraq, Guinea and Korea DPR have fared poorly at previous World Cups if you consider the points per game they have gained over past FIFA U-17 World Cups.

Here is the performance list of all the 24 teams that will play at the U-17 World Cup in India later this year, on the basis of points per game.


Teams on the left, their U-17 World Cup points per game on the right
Teams on the left, their U-17 World Cup points per game on the right (data from FIFA)

If you look at the list above, the likes of Iraq, Honduras, New Zealand, Costa Rica and Korea DPR haven't had good outings in past U-17 World Cups, with their respective points-per-game averaging below 1. India might not have a history at the FIFA U-17 World Cup, but they are not the only ones in that position.

New Caledonia and Niger are fellow first timers, while the likes of New Zealand and the USA, regular participants, haven't made much of their forays into U-17 World Cups. That suggests that past experience at U-17 World Cups doesn't really matter. If India is lucky, this generation of Indian footballers can go on to achieve big things in the future. That, at the moment, is an entire nation's hope.

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