New Delhi [India], December 18 (ANI): All India Football Federation (AIFF) announced its candidature to host the AFC Asian Cup 2027 on Wednesday which has created an incredible buzz across the nation among various stakeholders, including the players.
Blue Tigers skipper Sunil Chhetri, who has represented the nation at two AFC Asian Cups in 2011 and 2019, stated that hosting the mega-event in India will be the 'best gift' for the supporters and having the top teams from the continent playing on Indian soil will be a boost for the sport in the country.
"There is no bigger honour and privilege than playing for your country and for our nation to host the AFC Asian Cup 2027 would be even bigger. I think it will be the best gift for the fans and for everyone in the country," he said in an AIFF release.
"We have already had the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017 in India and it was such a huge success and you can see the prodigies from that tournament do so well. We also have the upcoming FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in 2022 and I can't wait for it. To get the 2027 Asian Cup and get the best in Asia to come to our country to play would be immense. I wish the AIFF all the very best and I hope we get it," added Chhetri, who is currently the second-highest active international goal scorer.
Iconic national team goalkeeper Subrata Paul, who earned the nickname of Spiderman for his unforgettable performance for India in the AFC Asian Cup 2011, stated that the country is 'ready' to host the tournament and become a 'global football destination'.
"I consider myself very lucky to represent my country and play in big matches in front of our fans. But, nothing is bigger than hosting the AFC Asian Cup 2027. I feel, in the last few years, our football infrastructure and culture has developed a lot and we are ready to host the AFC Asian Cup. I have no doubt that our fans will make it memorable for everyone and make our nation a destination for global football," Paul said.
As Indian football continues to move forward together, 2022 will see the country host two major international tournaments in the form of the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup and the AFC Women's Asian Cup, and according to Blue Tigers custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, hosting the AFC Asian Cup in 2027 will be a 'massive' help for the sport in India.
Sandhu, who is the first Indian to play in the UEFA Europa League, mentioned, "Our performances in the last few years have been steadily improving and hosting a big, big tournament like this will help us a lot. In 2017, we saw the FIFA U-17 World Cup being hosted in India and in 2022, the AFC Women's Asian Cup and FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup will be hosted as well. Hosting the AFC Asian Cup in 2027 will be a big boost for us in India and help the sport massively."
Centre-back Sandesh Jhingan, who earlier this year became the 27th footballer to receive the Arjuna Award, said that having the AFC Asian Cup on home soil will be a dream come true for every Indian.
"I saw the support which we got for the AFC Asian Cup 2019 in UAE and it felt like home with all the fans coming to support us. I can only imagine the noise and the buzz if we play the AFC Asian Cup 2027 in Kolkata. It's a dream for every Indian and I hope it gets fulfilled. The entire football fraternity in India will enjoy world-class football in our own backyard. I can't wait for it," Jhingan shared. (ANI)