Khel Now confirms the next road for the lads who made India’s debut at a FIFA World Cup.
Ever since India participated in the FIFA U-17 World Cup and 21 lads took the centre-stage, there has been a buzz in the air about ‘what’s next’. Khel Now sources close to the developments have confirmed that the U-17 team will play the AFC U-19 Championship qualifiers in Saudi Arabia, starting from 04th November.
The lads that put in a terrific display against the US and Colombia but were dispatched by Ghana will open the qualification campaign against Saudi Arabia. The game starts at 21:35 PM IST and will be played at the Prince Mohamed bin Fahd Stadium, Dammam.
The Indian football team is partnered by Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Turkmenistan in Group D. There are 10 groups in the qualification battle, with the number of teams varying from 4 to 5. The top 10 teams and best five teams will go through to the AFC U-19 Championships, and if Indonesia (the host of the final tournament) is part of these 15 teams, the sixth best second placed team will be selected.
The U-19 Indian Football team that recently played the SAFF U-18 Championships in Bhutan have returned back to India and have stayed together in Goa. Sources have suggested that a few players from that squad might get a look-in to this team, but the crux of the side will remain the same. Luis Norton De Matos, if there are no shockers, will take care of the team.
Nongdamba Naorem, Jeakson Singh, Anwar Ali and Mohd. Shahjahan will join Minerva Punjab and according to sources and will play the I-league with the club. 12 of the remaining 17 players have signed the contracts with the AIFF for playing the I-league. The others can be picked up by the clubs and Luis Norton De Matos does not seem to be very keen on them.
Luis Norton had also mentioned in his last press conference that according to the proposed plan, he would like to take this team to the I-league in the near future. The boys can certainly participate in India’s premier football competition.
The U-19 team had a decent tournament, opening their journey in Bhutan with a 4-3 table-toppling loss against Bangladesh after throwing away a 3-0 lead. The boys then defeated hosts Bhutan 3-1 and Maldives 2-0 comprehensively to make it to the finals but came up short against charged neighbours Nepal, the Reds defeating the Blue Cubs 2-0 in a well-battled final.
At the FIFA U-17 World Cup, the India team lost all three of its games, fighting hard against the USA and Colombia in 3-0 and 2-1 losses respectively. The team didn’t stand a chance against Ghana, getting trounced 4-0. With India looking certain to bag the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2019, it seems logical to continue with the progress these boys have made and keep searching for better strikers.
The final tournament will be played between 18 October and 4 November 2018 with Indonesia playing the hosts.