Kolkata will host the summit clash of the U-17 World Cup football on October 28 while Navi Mumbai and Guwahati were chosen to stage the semifinals of the prestigious FIFA tournament the country is hosting for the first time.
The 85,000 capacity Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan, which was refurbished by spending crores of rupees for the October 6-28 tournament, will also host the third place play-off match, one match each of round of 16 and quarterfinals, besides six Group F matches.
The announcement of the tournament schedule came after a seven-day visit by an eight-member FIFA team led by its head of events Jaime Yarza. The FIFA officials, along with Local Organising Committee members, inspected all the six cities—
Kolkata, New Delhi, Guwahati, Margao, Kochi and Navi Mumbai— which will host the tournament. Kolkata was the last port of call for the FIFA team.
The two semifinals will be held in Navi Mumbai’s DY Patil Stadium and Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium in Guwahati.
DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai, which has been termed as the benchmark venue by the visiting FIFA team, will also be home to Group A and host a round of 16 match. Guwahati will be home to Group E besides hosting one round of 16 and one quarterfinal match.
New Delhi will stage Group B matches, besides two round of 16 games. The Capital City will host its last match on October 16 due to the pollution concerns which has robbed it from hosting marquee matches.
Margao will be home to Group C, besides hosting two matches of round of 16 and one quarterfinal game while Kochi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, which has been rated worst by the FIFA team in terms of preparations, will be the venue for Group D matches, besides one round of 16 and one quarterfinal match.
“We know October is a month of festival in India and we want this to be a festival of football,” Yarza told a news conference after capping a countrywide recce of six venues.
Asked how Kolkata pipped Mumbai for the final, he said:
“We love DY Patil. After what we saw here today we are confident that Salt Lake Stadium has stood up the benchmark. This is one of the stadiums that has improved greatly. All members of my team are very pleased. It’s really becoming one of the best stadiums in India, if not the top.
“We are happy. This is a stadium that is fulfilling all the high standards. Obviously it is not finished. Things can change but we have received guarantees from the ministers that everything will develop like we requested. Then we can have a fantastic World Cup here.”