FIFA U-17 WC: 'A tipping point for Indian football'

ANI | Updated: Oct 15, 2017 19:08 IST

Kolkata (West Bengal)[India], Oct. 15 (ANI): "FIFA U-17 World Cup has been a tipping point for Indian football, and purely for the perception of Indian football and hosting this tournament, something has definitely changed," said Project Director of the FIFA U-17 World Cup LOC, Joy Bhattacharjya.

A press conference marking the end of the group stage of the tournament happened for gathered media on Sunday in Kolkata's host stadium, and the mood was buoyant but one of a good job, half-way done.

India ended their World Cup campaign after facing a 0-4 defeat against Ghana in their last fixture of the Group A at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi. Earlier; they were defeated by the other two teams of the Group-USA and Colombia.

India were the lowest-ranked side in the tournament. They qualified as hosts. This was their first-ever appearance in a FIFA World Cup at any age group.

This was their first-ever appearance in a FIFA World Cup at any age group.

Though the spirit and effort that the young Indian players put in during their three Group A matches made their compatriots proud, the quality of the opposition proved too much for the hosts, as they bowed out of the U-17 World Cup with three straight defeats.

"For the 10- or 12-year-old children at the stadiums seeing a World Cup match for the very first time, I can tell you, it will change their lives. That for us is a very large part of what we're doing. If we're here to change Indian football for the better, this is where it starts. There are many things we still have to do, but we have started the process, and that is what's important," Bhattacharjya said.

Javier Ceppi, Director of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 LOC, called attendances at the event so far "fantastic and astonishing".

"We have to remember this is the first FIFA World Cup hosted in India, but there has been improvement on each match-day regarding every single aspect of operations. There have been historic crowds, a potential record for a youth tournament. We have crossed the 800,000 spectator mark, already almost double what Chile 2015 had for that complete tournament. The average per match is almost 23,000, and the Indian matches had 49,000 average spectators, which is huge," he added.

The quality of play on the pitch and the electric atmosphere in the stadiums was also a major topic.

"It's obvious from this group stage that teams have come well prepared, and you have some great skillful individuals, especially in attacking positions," said Branimir Ujevic, FIFA Head of Coaching and Player Development.

"Credit to the Indian people. It has been a great World Cup. The football atmosphere has been really fantastic. On your way to the stadium you could be forgiven for thinking that you're going to Old Trafford or the Bernabeu or a place like that," he added. (ANI)

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