FIFA U-17 World Cup: Premier League scouts impressed by India's performance
The Indian Under-17 team played one of their best matches in recent memory when they held 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup runners-up Chile to a 1-1 draw on Sunday, finishing a difficult tour of Mexico on a positive note.
India had lost 5-1 and 3-0 to Mexico and Colombia respectively before their tussle against Chile. Their confidence dented after back-to-back heavy defeats, the Colts put in an impressive display against their Chilean counterparts to come away with a draw despite finishing the game with ten men.
As is often the case with international matches between age group teams, scouts working in an ad-hoc capacity for a few big Premier League clubs were also at the 4 Nations Tournament in Mexico.
Having gone down there to monitor players from traditional footballing heavyweights like Mexico, Colombia and Chile in the hope of spotting the next Javier Hernandez or James Rodriguez, player scouts from Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur were believed to be impressed by the application level of the Indian starlets.
According to close sources in Mexico, the scouts were pleasantly surprised by India's fighting performance against their more accomplished opponents. Given their record of picking up the best youngsters on the planet for their state-of-the-art academies, both Spurs and City, like almost all elite clubs, have a worldwide scouting network, with ad-hoc scouts in regions of lesser priority.
It speaks volumes of Luis Norton de Matos' Indian team that his charges attracted eyeballs from two of the biggest clubs in world football. Should the Colts continue to shatter all myths about Indian football and play to their potential, the day isn't far when an Indian player is picked up by the footballing elite.
Even Chile coach Hernan Caputto was impressed by the Indians, saying after the 1-1 draw: "It [the draw] was deserving, India is a team that will compete and will make their country proud, you can tell there is a lot of work from Luis and what he has achieved with the players."
Scouts will be all over India during this October's FIFA U-17 World Cup as they run their eyes over players from six confederations in a bid to steal a march on their rivals to the signing of the next superstar. It remains to be seen whether or not an Indian can catch their eyes.
That said, Norton de Matos' players have given a good account of themselves ever since the Portuguese took over the team's reins in March this year. They have played five national teams under Norton de Matos so far and performed creditably in all the matches, the Colombia game aside. It, therefore, is no surprise that the Colts caught the attention of some of the biggest Premier League clubs.