U-17 WC hosting rights highlight of 2013 for Indian football
New Delhi: Securing the hosting rights of the prestigious 2017 Under-17 FIFA World Cup was the lone silver lining in an otherwise disappointing and forgettable year gone by for Indian football.
On the field, it was one of the worst years in recent times with India failing to defend the SAFF Championships which the country has won six times out of the 10 editions held so far.
India could not even qualify for the final round of the AFC Challenge Cup, a tournament competed by middle-rung Asian nations in the FIFA rankings. India also played four international friendlies during the year, losing two, winning one and drawing the other.
The much-anticipated IPL-style football league proposed to be held early next year was also postponed to September 2014 just days before the franchise bidding, citing various factors, including scheduling conflicts with the I-League and non-availability of stadium in Goa due to delay in Lusofonia Games.
The All India Football Federation did not have much to show, as the national team was faring poorly, except for clinching of the 2017 Under-17 FIFA World Cup at the fag end of the year which no doubt was a landmark achievement in Indian football history.
The FIFA had encouraged India to bid for the mega event in continuation of its “football geo-politics” but the country nearly lost the tournament for want of assurances from the government– a pre-requisite to host a FIFA event of this magnitude.
India’s bid was rejected by the FIFA early in the year and its final bid documents were submitted at the last minute due to delay in getting government guarantees on various subjects.
By virtue of being the host country, an Indian team will play in the 24-nation tournament which will be held in six venues across the country.