6 cities , 52 matches and 24 nations, October promises to be a month unlike any other for the Indian football fans. India will be hosting its first FIFA tournament with primary objective of proving doubters wrong. The largest nation of Sub-continent will be hosting its first FIFA World Cup of any age group and first participation as well. U-17 World Cup can prove to be the Showcase event for India in a bid to host the bigger tournaments in future.
Starting on October 6 with three group stage matches scheduled to be starting simultaneously, India’s first match will be played against USA at 20:00 IST. The other teams in India’s group include Ghana and Columbia. The group stages will conclude on October 14th and from 16th, Round of sixteen will begin and will conclude on 18th. The quarter finals will be played in Guwahati, Goa, Kochi and Kolkata on October 21st and 22nd. The Semi finals will be played on October 25th in Guwahati and Navi Mumbai. The big final will be played on October 28th at Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium which was once the second largest stadium in the world till 2011 but still boast a capacity of 66,687 which is largest in India.
Nigeria, who are the defending champions failed to qualify for the tournament and it means a new champion will be crowned. India will pin it’s hope on the key players of their own – Aniket Jadhav, Komal Thatal, Amarjit Singh Kiyam and Anwar Ali to name a few. They all have a story of their own and will look to carry the hopes of a nation which is bereft of any success on the football field.
Aniket Jadhav who was a 14 year old when he went on to represent India in the FC Bayern Munich Youth Cup in 2014 has been part of the AIFF setup ever since and the striker has since then won caps at all levels for India. Amarjit Singh Kiyam is a calming midfield presence who hails from the Haokha Mamang village in the Thoubal district of Manipur and saw some really hard times while growing up. Fortunately, his talent was recognised at an early age and he enrolled in the Chandigarh Football Academy which provided him free lodging, food and the cost of his education at a school in Chandigarh. He will be captaining India and was selected after the 21 boys voted him as their captain.
The team is coached by 63-year old Portuguese coach Luís Norton de Matos who was appointed in the month of February 2017 and has the typical Portuguese coaching style who uses pacy wingers and tall, heavy built strikers who can combat the aerially dominant CBs. India will hope to have a tournament worthy of the host nation under the leadership and Coaching of Matos.