New Delhi: Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Shaikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa on Saturday hoped that the Indian Super League (ISL) and the 2017 U-17 World Cup will combine to improve the standard of the game in the country.
“I congratulate the Indian football association on the way they are running the game in the country. The ISL and the U-17 World Cup will combine to trigger massive growth in Indian football,” Salman told reporters here.
“These two tournaments will combine to create a huge force in football,” he added.
Salman, who is in the capital to attend the AFC annual awards, assured full support to the AIFF in their endavour to stage a successful U-17 World Cup.
The AIFF formally flagged off its preparations for the mega tournament on Saturday. The tournament ball was handed over to India sub-junior team captain Amarjeet Singh.
“I am sure India will put up a great performance. India will have the AFC’s support and my support personally,” Salman said.
“In keeping with the desire to ensure it is a world class event, we have also awarded the U-16 AFC Championship 2016 to India,” he added.
“It’s only the beginning. Emotion is attached to football and that is what we want to bring to India.” Former India captain Chuni Goswami, who was also present on the occasion, was confident that the India U-17 players will do well in the tournament.
“Our youngsters are doing well under their new coach. We have a good team and I hope that they do well at the U-17 World Cup,” Goswami said.
Reminiscing about his playing days, the former Mohun Bagan star said: “Football is not an individual game. We need at least five to six world class or Asian class players to compete with the big teams.” “In the 1950’s we were Asian champions for three consecutive years. I was fortunate to be the captain of that team. But our success would not have been possible without players like (Peter) Thangraj, Jarnail Singh, P.K. Bannerjee, (Tulsidas) Balaram and others,” he added. “We could not have won without them.”