With preparations for the upcoming Under-17 football World Cup in its final stages, the All India Football Federation's next target is the Under-20 World Cup with president Praful Patel declaring the country was ready for it.
“The Under-20 World Cup is our next mission. We have already spoken to FIFA and told them that we are interested. The AIFF is ready to host it next year itself if possible but it isn't that simple. We have to see how to go about it and how, when we get it is something we cannot decide,” Patel told Sportstar following the AIFF Executive Committee meeting here on Thursday.
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Asked about how he fancied India's chances at the U-17 World Cup – the first ever FIFA event in the country – Patel admitted that while performance was important, the key objective for the federation was to get Indian youngsters motivated enough to take up football. “It's a big moment for us and we should not miss it. We know that, eventually, Indian football's future football lies in this youth group, not the present lot. The current team is playing well and good for them but if you want to see India at the next level in Asia and the world, you have to see the next generation of youth,” he said.
Goa unlikely to get FIFA U-17 WC marquee matches
He, however, refused to comment on the long-drawn issue of merging the I-League and the ISL, saying nothing had been finalised yet while insisting that the I-League would continue to exist regardless of the proposed restructuring of domestic football.
"The I-League will always be there, there is no question of that. It (the merger/restructuring) is a work in progress but whatever decision is taken, we will never do anything where the larger interests of Indian football and its legacies are not taken care of," Patel insisted.
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