FIFA U-17 WC: India will hope for an easy draw

Support for the biennial under-17 tournament has been lukewarm in other host nations, and the popularity of the tournament here, too, will depend on India’s accomplishments on the field.

A file picture of the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata, the venue for the final.   -  PTI

Host India, making its first foray in a major global football event, will hope to have luck on its side at the draw ceremony for the 2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup, to be held here tomorrow.

Football fanatics in the country as well as the organisers will want a few easy outings for the under-17 boys in the group phase, so as to ensure the team’s presence in the knockout stages of the competition.

Support for the biennial under-17 tournament has been lukewarm in other host nations, and the popularity of the tournament here, too, will depend on India’s accomplishments on the field.

The 24 teams have been divided into four Pots of six teams each. India, automatically slated in Pot 1, will not be facing three-time champion Brazil or European powerhouses Germany and France in the group phase, as they are also part of the same pot. (Brazil, which has 16-year-old prodigy Vinicius Junior in its ranks, recently signed by Real Madrid from Flamengo for GBP39.6 million, will start off as the tournament favourite.)

However, there are other strong contenders in Spain, England, Iran, Chile and Colombia, among others, and a win against any of these sides looks difficult.

"This is a World Cup after all and we know there won’t be any easy games. But, we will play entertaining football and hopefully get the desired results,” an official attached with the Indian team said.

With top two teams from each group and four best third-placed sides advancing to the pre-quarterfinals, a win and a draw will ensure the team’s progress to the next round.

Coached by Portugal’s Luis Norton de Matos, the junior national side has had long exposure trips to Europe and North America and will be playing its group phase matches at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi.

The tournament, to be held between October 6 and 28, will be held in six cities across the country, with the final at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata.