The international exposure which the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has been providing the India U-16 National Team on their road to prepare for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup has been quite unprecedented in Indian football history.
The team has already been to international exposure tours to Germany, Spain and South Africa and would embark on tours to Germany, Norway and Brazil immediately after the completion of the AIFF Youth Cup, all to prepare for the AFC U-16 Championship Finals in September and the FIFA U-17 World Cup in November 2017.
“The target is to make it to the semifinals of the U-16 Finals so that we qualify to the 2017 U-17 World Cup on merit,” Adam told AIFF Media.
The four semifinalists gain automatic berths to the FIFA U-17 World Cup. “We are working on the goal. We want to play the U-17 World Cup on merit,” he reiterates.
“In India it’s hard to get the right kind of opponent to play for the boys to develop. Even close to the AIFF Youth Cup, we struggled to play quality opposition,” he clarifies.
Adam has always stressed that it’s a “revolving door,” and that he would be scouting for boys till the registration process of the FIFA U-17 World Cup ends.
“Off-course, I mean it. We scouted some new players whom we found during the exhibition matches and they are now part of the team,” he informs. “We even spotted some boys from the U-15 League and though they are not that good enough right now, they are with us and will improve.”
“I expect the State Associations to respect our mission and send players of the right age. During our exhibition match in Guwahati most of the boys from the opposition were over-age but we spotted one player who has the potential. Unfortunately he is injured at the moment.”
India play Malaysia in their first match of the AIFF Youth Cup on May 15.
Nicolai, however, wasn’t willing to predict as to where the boys would be five years from now.
“It’s too early to say. We cannot predict the numbers of the lottery for the next week. Can we?” he queried.
You could not doubt him.
(Report & Photo courtesy AIFF Media)