The general secretary of AIFF Kushal Das today said that he believes that the Under-17 World Cup squad which the country has put up will be the game changer for Indian football.
“What has been a great revelation in 2015 is the development of the U-17 World Cup team. I have watched them play a few times. They played in Spain. They qualified for the AFC under-16 Championship for 2016 by merit even though we had an automatic berth,” Das said at the launch of I-League here.
“But the way the team is developing. The way the head coach Nicolai Adams is doing his job, I think this might be the game-changer. This team would be a very competitive team in the 2017 World Cup and I am really hopeful that this will be the beginning of a new era for Indian football,” Das said.
Das said 11 states till now have adopted the ‘Grassroot Programmes’ which was launched sometime back adding they have launched a state development initiative, in order to develop the capacity of the six world Cup venues.
He also pointed out about the rise in investment in football, which has tripled in the last two years largely due to the investments of the ISL clubs as they contribute more than 80 percent of that.
“Two years back, we had 12 clubs, now we have 17 of course with two leagues. The investment has gone up from Rs 200 crore in the last two years to Rs 600 crore now. It’s tripled. All these are good signs for Indian football,” Das said.
Referring to the recent victory at the SAFF Championship, Das also hoped if the team continues to work hard it would qualify for the 2019 Asian Championship.
“Always 15-day camps are not possible but we also have to give the players reasonable time to settle down. If we do it, if we work hard, I am sure we will be able to qualify for the Asian Championship in 2019,” he said.