Former India and Goa goalkeeper S. Brahmanand said on Friday that we needed a coach of Guus Hiddink’s ability for the nation to develop a squad worthy of competing in Under-17 World Cup football in 2017.
This is the first time India will take part in a FIFA World Cup event, gaining automatic entry as the host nation.
Henry Menezes and Santosh Kashyap, two other ex-internationals, expressed their views on the effect of FIFA decision.
S. Brahmanand (ex-India goalkeeper and Arjuna awardee): The allotment of U-17 World Cup to India is a great moment. It really helps in taking football to all corners of our nation. The conduct of a world-level tournament will raise the standards in the way the game is played and managed. As far as our preparation goes, I strongly feel we need a national coach of the calibre of Guus Hiddink. The way this Dutchman went about identifying players and developing the South Korea team for 2002 World Cup was admirable. India has talent at the junior level, appointing right persons to scout for players and then have a plan in place to provide them international exposure will help in building a squad in time for 2017 when the World Cup arrives.
Henry Menezes (ex-India goalkeeper and current CEO, Western India Football Association): The right to host the U-17 WC is bigger for India than attempting to bid for the senior World Cup. The latter competition involves the elite, an event of this scale involving the U-17 means involvement of young players and parents, friends and the community. Corporates are on the lookout for a second sport in India to promote, apart from cricket. The host cities will benefit. We do not know India’s strength, the World Cup will reveal to us this aspect. A new set-up needs to be created to do talent spotting for the FIFA tournament. The immediate need is to create a pool of qualified coaches to identify talented young players.
Santosh Kashyap (ex-India midfielder and Rangdajied United club’s current coach): This is the spark Indian football needs and the result of many years of hard work, ever since FIFA chief Sepp Blatter made the trip to India. The AIFF has been following it up and now our junior footballers will get a chance to compete in the World Cup. The development of infrastructure will be particularly useful in the long run. Football is the only sport people follow in north-east India and the game’s followers here are looking forward to the event.