Tag: FIFA U-17 World Cup

I Wasn’t Aware That I’m The Youngest Goalscorer: Jitendra Singh

NEW DELHI: 16 years, 6 months and 13 days old defender Jitendra Singh became the youngest goalscorer in I-League when he scored for AIFF’s developmental team Indian Arrows against Shillong Lajong FC in their last match of the Hero I-League, a day after Christmas, a match which the Arrows eventually won 3-0.

Life hasn’t been the same for the sturdy defender since the FIFA U-17 World Cup and moments in I-League has provided Jitendra with ‘impeccable memories’, which he shares in an exclusive interview with the-aiff.com. EXCERPTS:

How does it feel to be the youngest goalscorer in the I-League?

Am I the youngest? I am not aware of that (smiles).

It is every player’s dream to score a goal. I was just in the right place to slot the ball home (against Shillong Lajong) and I did not even think about being the youngest goalscorer at that moment as I was doing my duty for the team.

It feels special to have my name in the record books but I am focused on my job which is to defend and contribute. Goals for defenders are rare and I am happy that I was able to score my first.

How has life been in I-League?

The I-League has been very challenging as it is the football of the next level when we play against some of the best club teams in the Country. Given the potential of players on the pitch, anything can happen at any given time and we need to be constantly on our toes and stay focused. Life has been tough in I-League but as they say – when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Is it hard defending against physically stronger opponents?

Defending against physical opponents is tough but that seldom enters my brain when I am on the pitch. It rarely affects me because when we step out into the arena the only goal is to give our all.

What has been the importance of the FIFA U-17 World Cup in your career?

We faced tough sides in USA, Colombia and Ghana and that helped in my progression as a defender. As a team, we developed more chemistry and more bonding with each other. The FIFA World Cup was a dream come true for me personally and I revere every second spent on the pitch in the mega event.

How helpful was it?

We learnt from our mistakes in the FIFA World Cup and we learnt how not to commit the mistake twice and that has helped us in our transition in I-League. We try to learn every day in training and try to be the best version of ourselves when we play in I-League.

Curtains to go up on Indian Super League 2017/18

MUMBAI: Less than a month after the conclusion of a record-setting FIFA U-17 World Cup, India’s biggest football extravaganza is set to kick-off in Kochi with the Indian Super League 2017/18 poised to commence on 17th November 2017.

Over the years Kerala has consistently groomed talented footballers who have represented some of the biggest clubs in the country as well as the national team. In recognition of Kerala’s passion for the beautiful game, Kochi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium readies to host the spectacular opening ceremony of the much anticipated fourth season of the Indian Super League.

The opening match and opening ceremony were supposed to be held at the iconic Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata at first, but later it was announced that the final would take place in Kolkata which saw the opening match was moved to Kochi.

The opening ceremony promises glitz and glamour with Bollywood superstars Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif geared to set the stage alight with performances on some of their most popular tracks reflecting the increasing role of the entertainment aspect that started to be associated with the sport.

Founder and Chairperson of FSDL Nita Ambani, Kerala Blasters owner Sachin Tendulkar and Chennaiyin FC owner Abhishek Bachchan are expected to attend the opening ceremony which promises to be a cracker of a performance.

The match between home side Kerala Blasters and defending champions ATK will mark the start of a gruelling five-month football marathon.

Interestingly, the two teams faced each other in the final of the ISL 2016 at the very same ground where ATK got the better of Kerala Blasters 4-3 penalties.

Therefor, ATK will be eager to kick off their title defense on a positive note while Kerala Blasters will be looking to go that extra mile this year and crown champions. This promises to be a cracker of a season with a potentially explosive opening fixture.

Featuring two new teams in Bengaluru FC and Jamshedpur FC, the ISL 2017/18 is already bigger than it’s previous three editions and it is about to get substantially better.

India U19s gear up for Saudi Arabia challenge

DAMMAM (SAUDI ARABIA): The Indian U-19 National Team will face hosts Saudi Arabia in their opening encounter of Group D of the AFC U-19 Championship qualifiers at the Prince Mohammad bin Fahad Stadium in Dammam, Saudi Arabia tomorrow (November 04, 2017). The kick-off for which is slated at 9:35 PM IST.

Riding on the “positive experience” of the recently concluded FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 India, Head Coach of the Indian U-19s, Luis Norton de Matos said in the Official Pre-Tournament Press Conference that India will be looking to make an impact, whilst continuing the process of “building football in the next generation”.

“It is very important to continue the process of developing football in the set of boys that have been provided post the World Cup. We will be looking forward to give all the teams a tough fight and aim for a win”, Matos said.

“We will fight till the very end in our upcoming matches, but at the same time we respect our opponents and we know that our opponents have the necessary tools to hurt us. We will have to be focused and stay on our toes throughout the entirety of the matches”

“We aim to play against the best and we are drawn in a group that have some of the best youth teams in Asia. Against Saudi Arabia, it will be a very tough clash and the fact that they will be playing at home will add to that”, he added.

Comprising of a mixture of players from Indian U-17 World Cup Team and India’s U-19 team which played in the SAFF U-19 Championship in Bhutan, the Indian U-19 National Team has been pitted in Group D alongside hosts Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Turkmenistan.

“The set of players that we have are special and some of the boys who were part of the FIFA U-17 World Cup are in the Indian U-19s, which make it a very special experience of them of playing against some of the best youth teams of Asia”

“We are preparing for the future and through the process the players are bound to grow with the experience that they will get throughout”, Matos quipped. “The FIFA U-17 World Cup proved that the new generation can follow football and we wish to capitalize on this growth”

In their preparation for the AFC U-19 Championship Qualifiers, India had an exposure tour of Qatar wherein the colts played against Qatar U-19s and Al-Gharafa Club, losing 1-0 against the former and defeating the latter 3-1. “The exposure tours helped us in our preparation for the Qualifiers as they gave us time for team chemistry to build both on and off the field. Our strength is our unity and if we aim to play as a single unit in the upcoming matches”, Matos informed.

Meanwhile, the Head Coach of Saudi Arabia Khalid Alatawi gave credit to India and said, “India are one of the teams that have evolved good with time and they (India) have made good progress. They (India) are quick on the ball and will be tough opponents tomorrow

U-17 World Cup: India ready to move forward after opening defeat


NEW DELHI: After putting up a brave fight against USA in their Group A opener in the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017, the Indian U-17 National Team turn eyes to face Colombia at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in the capital on October 09, 2017. The kick-off slated for IST 8pm.

Colombia lost 1-0 against Ghana in the opening match of Group A and although the South-Americans are level on points with India (both have zero points), the Indian colts are at the bottom (courtesy goal difference). A win for India would propel them to stay in contention for qualification for the next stage of the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

Head Coach of the Indian U-17s Luis Norton de Matos wasn’t willing to read much into the opposition but instead said: “The team will fight to the last minute and play with confidence giving Colombia a run for their money.”

“Colombia are tough opponents and they possess the necessary elements to hurt us. We have to be on our toes all throughout and have to focus on the task at hand. They (Colombia) will also give us a tough physical fight but we are ready for it.”

“We will play to win. There is no other alternative for us. Every match we play is to win and if we win against Colombia we will be creating history,” Matos stressed.

“The eventual target is to secure progression to the next stage whilst taking one game at a time. The strength of the Indian team is their collective ability to play football as a combined unit and we bank on that factor to help us win against Colombia.”

But how will be India’s performance against Colombia be different from India’s 3-0 loss against USA? “Against USA, we had a nervy start and the players were shy and could not play their game against a team of the quality of USA. It was their first match ever in a FIFA World Cup and emotions can be a little hard to control when you play in front of 55,000 people for the very first time,” Matos pronounced.

Meanwhile, the boys are all geared up for the next challenge. “Winning and losing are part of football. What matters is how well we recover ourselves and learn from our losses and continue to move forward,” said Komal Thatal.

“We will give it our very best as it is a do-or-die game for us if we have to remain in contention of progression.”

Meanwhile, Aniket Jadhav brushed aside pressure and stated, “Pressure is always there when you play football. We had pressure in the first game and we gave USA a very tough fight. It will be there against Colombia as well, but this time we are not looking to give a tough fight, we are looking to win.”

“We have already created history by becoming the first Indian team to participate in a FIFA World Cup, now we want to create history by becoming the first Indian team to win a match in the FIFA World Cup”, informed Rahul K.P.

Skipper Amarjit Singh further quipped: “At the same time we have huge respect for Colombia. They are one of the best teams of their region. But this is a matter of survival for us and we will do everything to be in contention of progression.”

The Indian U-17s had played Colombia in a Four-Nation Tournament in Mexico City, Mexico where the young colts lost 3-0. When asked if the team learned anything from that outing, Matos said: “Every match is a new match as every day is a new day and playing in a FIFA World Cup is a different challenge for both teams as compared to a friendly match. It will be a different setting altogether with different tactics and technicalities.”

Those who aim low will never go high – Jairo Torres

KOLKATA: Confidence is high within Mexico’s ranks as midfielder Jairo Torres says that he thinks his side can lift the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017.

The El Tricolor will kick off their FIFA U-17 World Cup campaign against Iraq on Sunday, and the Best Player of 2017 CONCACAF U-17 Championship is confident his team can go all the way in India to become the champions for the first time since 2011.

“Those who aim low will never go high. That is why I believe, sincerely, that we can win the FIFA U-17 World Cup,” the play-maker said while speaking to media after their training session on Friday.

Torres, who idolize Brazilian superstar Neymar Junior, further added: “We had a good preparation and we are optimistic. We have pressure but it’s normal when you represent your country at World Cup. We have good players, we have a good team, I am hopeful.”

Speaking about their first opponents Torres said: “It is going to be difficult, for sure. We will have our chances, and we need to take them. We can beat any team on our day, but we’ll have to be at our best to beat Iraq, who are equally strong.”

The North American nation has been drawn in Group F with England, Chile and Iraq in the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

U-17 World Cup: Mexico confident of putting up a good performance in India


KOLKATA: Mario Artega, the Mexico U-17 National Team Coach, has expressed confidence about his team’s performance in the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017, which starts tomorrow.

The 46-year-old was speaking to the media on Thursday after his team’s first training session in Kolkata. The 2017 CONCACAF U-17 champions are drawn with England, Chile and Iraq in Group F in the FIFA U-17 World Cup, with their first game scheduled on October 8 against the Asian champions Iraq.

Talking about preparations for the tournament, Artega exuded confidence about the abilities of his team. “It’s going to be a tough tournament in India, in conditions that are alien to us. But it’s really exciting and we are looking forward to a good show in the tournament. We’ll be doing all we can to lift the trophy,” he said.

The man who is leading Mexico into their second straight FIFA U-17 World Cup, is well aware that the two-time champions will be under the burden of high expectations, though he is anxious not to get too far ahead of himself and to take each challenge as it comes. As he explained: “We want to win this tournament, but all I’m thinking about right now is negotiating our first match well against Iraq.”

“The match against  Iraq will be crucial. Everyone is talking about England and Chile, but I think we need to be very wary of this team. They’re a strong side and I see it as a very tough game,” the gaffer added.

Wrapping things up, Artega spoke of the need for his side to shine in India: “We have a team that got potential to go the distance. My squad is a mix of players who play in Mexican top tier and others who are playing in lower divisions. If they all perform at their usual level and we give them the confidence they need, we can go and get some good results. I’m expecting the players to give 200 per cent, so that we can be at our best at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017.”

The North American nation is pinning it’s dreams on players like midfielder Jairo Torres, who won Golden Ball in 2017 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, and striker Daniel Lopez, the top scorer for Mexico in the same competition.


Dheeraj Singh ready to face the challenge

NEW DELHI: Goalkeepers are the last line of defense and possibly one of the most important element in the game of football. Indian U-17’s goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh understands that a goalkeeper’s job is of “staying in the moment” and believes that it takes one moment for a custodian to become a hero. In a detailed chat with AIFF’s official website, Dheeraj talks in length about his goalkeeping, Indian U-17s, the FIFA U-17 World Cup and a lot more. EXCERPTS:

How will you define your style of goalkeeping?

I like to keep a balance between aggressive goalkeeping where I dominate the box and composed goalkeeping. You have to pick your moments and chose what type of goalkeeping will suit the moment. Sometimes the aggressive goalkeeping can lead to difficulties and even conceding a goal where composed goalkeeping could have worked and vice versa. For a goalkeeper, both ways of goalkeeping are important.

How tough is a goalkeeper’s job?

Staying in the moment is the job of a goalkeeper and a slight lack of focus or concentration can easily lead to a goal. Goalkeepers are the last barriers and it makes the job all the more tough when there is a pressure of performing in every single game associated with it.

Will the FIFA U-17 World Cup be a challenge as a goalkeeper?

It is a challenge that I am prepared for. We respect our opponents but as a goalkeeper it is my job to be the hardest barrier they face and I will try to be the hardest barrier that they will ever face in scoring a goal.

Are you looking forward to the FIFA U-17 World Cup?

Yes! Very much, all my days of sacrifice and hard work will be rewarded and I am very much excited to be a part of the first Indian team to feature in a FIFA World Cup.

Ghana set sights on FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 title

NEW DELHI: Two time FIFA U-17 World Cup champions Ghana are looking to end their 22-year trophy drought when they begin their FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 campaign against Colombia on 6th October at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi.

Following a ten-year absence, the Black Starlets booked their ticket to the U-17 global extravaganza through their performances at this year’s U-17 Africa Cup of Nations.

The Ghana U-17 National Team Head Coach Paa Kwasi Fabin sounded confident while speaking to FIFA’s official website about his side’s passage to India: “We put in a big effort to get to the U-17 World Cup again. Qualifying was very tough, but our hard work paid off and we achieved our goal.”

To prepare for their long-awaited return to the big time, the Black Starlets held a training camp in the United Arab Emirates, where they contested two warm-up friendlies. Following a disappointing 2-0 loss to Mali, who also beat them in the U-17 AFCON final, they bounced back in style by crushing UAE 4-0. “My team are in good shape and we’re hopeful that our great preparations will stand the players in good stead,” the coach said.

Fabin, who has been at the helm since 2011, is aware of the fact that it will not be easy for Ghana to progress to the knockout rounds in India, having been placed in a tricky group along with hosts, Colombia and United States of America.

However, the gaffer backed his charges to continue rising to the challenges ahead and said: “We’ve been handed a very tough group. We’re up against the sort of sides who need no introduction, but we’re ready.”

This will be Ghana’s ninth appearance in the FIFA U-17 World Cup and are one of the favourities considering their performance in the CAF qualifiers.

However, it is always difficult to predict how a team will fare after such an extended absence from a competition, but Fabin signed off on a bullish note: “Our aim is to get to the final and win it.”

Ghana were crowned world champions in 1995 and 1999, and have also finished runners-up on two occasions.

FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 Trophy Experience a huge success


MUMBAI: India’s football fans thronged to catch a glimpse of the Official Winner’s Trophy of the FIFA U-17 World Cup as the silverware traversed over 16,000 km across the length and breadth of the nation, making pit stops in all six Host Cities of the country’s first FIFA tournament, which will kick off on 6 October.

More than a million Indians from all walks of life, most of them united by their love for the beautiful game, came together to get up close to the coveted trophy that will be lifted by the winning captain at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan on 28 October.

The Trophy Experience kicked off at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in the capital New Delhi on 19 August and moved on to Guwahati, Kolkata, Mumbai and Goa before drawing to a close in a carnival-like atmosphere at the scenic Vasco da Gama square in Fort Kochi.

Across the different cities, states, cultures and landscapes, the passionate football fans of India gave a warm welcome to the trophy, which was displayed in various parts of the Host Cities, giving them ample opportunity to take pictures and selfies with the trophy. Kheleo, the Official Mascot for the tournament, was a hit at all venues, as was the catchy Official Song of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 – Kar Ke Dikhla De Goal – as India continued to build up to its first-ever appearance in a FIFA tournament.

Among the highlights of the Trophy Experience was the FIFA Legends match on 6 September, which was held to mark the one-month countdown to the tournament. The match saw icons such as Carlos Valderrama, Fernando Morientes, Marcel Desailly, Jorge Campos and Emmanuel Amuneke play a fiercely fought five-a-side game against a team of Indian stars including Indian women’s team captain Ngangom Bala Devi and Arjuna awardee Oinam Bembem Devi.

From the lush green hills of Guwahati in the north-east to the beaches of Goa and the hustle of financial hub Mumbai in the west, the unique Trophy Experience received crucial support from state governments and FIFA’s Commercial Affiliates including Coca-Cola and adidas, as well as the tournament’s National Supporters Bank of Baroda, Coal India and Hero MotoCorp. Along the way, many dignitaries, former and current footballers, politicians and celebrities also paid the trophy a visit, helping to engage even more fans.

The six-week long Trophy Experience played an important role in driving enthusiasm and anticipation among Indians, who will now look to carry the festive fervour through into the tournament, which will see young stars from the 24 qualified nations do battle to become champions.

Colombia become the first team to arrive for FIFA U-17 World Cup


NEW DELHI: With the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 set to begin in 15 days, Colombia became the first team to arrive in India for the tournament. The South American nation is placed in Group A and will play two of their group matches in New Delhi and one match in Navi Mumbai.

Upon landing in New Delhi late last night, Colombia coach Orlando Restrepo said, “We’re delighted to be here. The boys and the staff are all looking forward to a competitive tournament where we will put our best foot forward”.

Los Cafeteros will make their sixth FIFA U-17 World Cup appearance in India this October, though they haven’t played the last three editions of the tournament with Nigeria 2009 being the last FIFA U-17 World Cup they took part in.

The CONMEBOL team secured their World Cup berth by finishing third in the South American U-17 Championship that was held earlier this year.

Their arrival further amplified the anticipation for the upcoming event, the first FIFA tournament that will be played in India.

Speaking about the first team’s arrival, Tournament Director of the Local Organising Committee, Javier Ceppi said, “It is very exciting to have Colombia as the first team coming into the country. With their arrival, the Tournament now enters into the last stage, with the National Teams starting their preparations actually on-ground to get used to the conditions in India.

We encourage all fans to welcome all the teams that will start arriving from now onwards and to show the hospitality of this wonderful country”.

Besides Colombia and hosts India, the 22 remaining teams will be landing in India over the course of the next two weeks.