FIFA U-17 World Cup: India to play world's top teams in four-nation tournament
The Indian Under-17 football team are gearing up for the home FIFA Under-17 World Cup later this year, and the Colts are currently in Mexico for a testing set of fixtures.
The Indian Colts will be up against strong opponents in the form of Mexico, Colombia and Chile in a four-nation tournament - Torneo de 4 Naciones - hosted by the Mexican football association.
All four teams will be playing at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup that kick starts in October this year and India will look to gain valuable experience against opponents who are far more accomplished at international level.
Incidentally, the Colts will also face Colombia in the group stage of the World Cup as both teams have been drawn together in Group A alongside the United States and Ghana.
Mexico, the hosts of the short tournament, hold the second best record after Brazil at Under-17 World Cups among the 24 participating nations. In contrast, India will make their first ever FIFA World Cup appearance, hence this exposure tour will stand the Colts in good stead to compete against teams of the calibre of Mexico.
The tournament has a packed schedule of six matches inside four days, with India set to take on Mexico tomorrow, followed by a clash against Colombia on Friday. The Colts play their last match against Chile on Sunday.
Here are the timings of India's kick-offs at the Torneo de 4 Naciones:
3rd August: India vs Mexico, kick-off at 8.30 pm IST
4th August: India vs Colombia, kick-off at 11 pm IST
6th August: India vs Chile, kick-off at 8.30 pm IST
The Colts had an energy-sapping tour of Europe after the appointment of head coach Luis Norton de Matos in March this year. The Portuguese coach has overseen a mixed bag of results with the Colts so far, but the progress of the team has been evident. De Matos has instilled a sense of discipline to the Colts as they have become defensively more solid with each passing game.
The games against three of the biggest teams in the Americas will be a measure of the Indian team's development under De Matos and will be a pointer to what can be expected from the Colts at the forthcoming Under-17 World Cup. Mexico has won the third most number of matches in Under-17 World Cup history after Brazil and Nigeria.
The Under-17 World Cup kicks off on 6th October.