Indian U17 team leaves for exposure trip to Europe
The youngsters are set to take on U17 sides of famous Portuguese clubs like Sporting Lisbon, Benfica, Estoril and Setubal.
What’s the story?
The All Indian Football Federation is leaving no stones unturned to ensure that the Under 17 team gets maximum exposure ahead of the FIFA Under 17 World Cup this year. The squad left for Portugal yesterday, in order to play friendly matches against some big-name clubs from France and Italy as well as to participate in the prestigious Lazio Cup.
Mr. Kushal Das, general secretary of the AIFF, in a statement to Goal.com said, “With six months or so to go for the U17 World Cup, the new coach wants to play tougher oppositions so that we know where we stand. We are also looking to play the national teams of Hungary and Austria too.”
In case you didn’t know...
For the first time ever, India will be hosting a FIFA tournament in October this year in the form of the Under 17 FIFA World Cup. The Blue Colts, who are eligible to participate thanks to their country being the host nation, are eager to put a good shift in and impress all those who are going to visit.
The team has participated in exposure trips before, but with just six months left for the tournament, the AIFF is eager to intensify the training regimes of the squad.
The heart of the matter
The 26-member team which also has seven officials and head coach Luis Norton de Matos will take on U17 sides of famous Portuguese clubs like Sporting Lisbon, Benfica, Estoril and Setubal. They will then travel to Paris to face the PSG U17 team and then visit Rome to compete against the Italian Under 17 squad.
They shall conclude their trip by participating in the internationally acclaimed Lazio Cup, which is set to feature sides like Albania U-17, Colombia U-17, a team from CAF Canadian selection, and some others like Fiorentina, Lazio, Sampdoria, Cagliari, Pescara, Serie B Italia, Serie C Italia and a few local sides. Aside from these, the fledgeling team is also going to come up against the Hungarian U17 national team and other clubs from Spain as well.
While speaking on the tour, the PSG U17 coach Laurent Haurd, in an interview to Goal.com, said, "This is very good for them (India) to come in Europe to prepare the World Cup. They will come into our training ground, just near the professional one to play that game".
The tour will certainly prove to be conducive to the youngsters, who are well aware of the expectations of the nation. Facing top-notch sides will not only give them a better understanding of what they are lacking as a unit and how to better themselves but will also instil a sense of camaraderie in them which can only them improve themselves in the long run.