FIFA under-17 World Cup 2017 know your team: India

Photo: AIFF
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With just over two months to go for the biggest carnival, this country has ever hosted on its soil.The buzz is reaching at its peak among the football frenzy fans of India.

The Fifa under-17 World Cup will start its ball rolling on 6th of October this year and will eventually reach its climax on 28th of October. That means 23 days of non-stop high-quality football action that the citizens of the country have not yet experienced. And to their extreme delight, the Indian youth u-17 team is also going to feature in this mega event owing to the benefit of being the host country. Even though it is a youth tournament but football World Cup that too in this country and the national team taking part in that has always been a distant dream since 1950 for everybody and thus people are relishing and cherishing it just the way it should be. The eagerness, excitement and enthusiasm is there for all to see as tickets (both online and offline are being raided at a brisk rate at all the six venues). A combined total of 24 teams from 6 confederations are participating in this competition, it is a mammoth platform which is guaranteed to give birth to future superstars as it already did in its previous editions.

We here at Lntup.com will be analysing the brightest prospects and sensations of every team who can take the tournament by storm for the next few weeks.

Team Name: INDIA
Association: All India Football Federation
Confederation : AFC (Asia)
Head Coach: Luis Norton de Matos
Nickname: Indian Colts

Recent performances of the Indian u-17 national team over the past one year:

We, therefore, start with the host nation India in Group A placed alongside the likes of USA, Colombia and Ghana. Initially we did see this under-17 team perform in the 2016 BRICS u-17 Football Cup held at Goa (Brazil won the tournament defeating South Africa in the final at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda) and to be brutally honest the performances were not up to the level they are ought to be if India has any aspirations of going past the group stages in the World Cup. The blue Colts lost all their matches and eventually got knocked out and the positives were very few and far between to take away from this competition. But irrespective of these dismal results the performances of some of these kids did not go unnoticed. Following the BRICS the u-17 team also featured in the likes of Atlantic u-17 Cup held in Brazil in December last year and also played the Granatkin Cup held in Russia during January this year. The performances were very encouraging but unluckily those did not transpire into results (India managed only two wins in these two tournaments defeating Orlando City Fc and Belarus during this two month period).The Portuguese coach Norton de Matos and his entire coaching staff have been working relentlessly behind these lads in inflicting the European style of football and to be fair to them they have done a pretty decent job in terms of shaping up the team and its players compared to where they were a few months back.
The recent performances against top AFC nations like Iran, Tajikistan and also in the Lazio Cup held in May this year in Italy where India defeated the likes of Lega Pro XI by 3-1 on aggregate and Valmontone by a convincing 3-0 margin clearly testify to that.

Players whom Indians can surely look forward to in the current u-17 national squad:

Sanjeev Stalin (Defender): This Bengaluru based kid is probably no stranger to anyone who follows youth football in this country on a regular basis. Leaving aside his defensive quality his aerial strength, tough tackling, command over the ball and the flexibility while going up front (he has a pretty decent record of 3 goals in 25 games) are some of his remarkable features. Gone are the days of ball playing defenders in this country and this guy fits into that category perfectly. So this young lad should emerge as one of the brightest sparks in this competition and there is no reason why he should not. The kid has got a cool head and does not necessarily crumble under pressure with a valuable ability to slow down the game when opponents are tearing apart with attack after attack.

Komal Thatal (Midfielder): This Sikkimese boy has been the most talked about young sensation in Indian football (since the days of Baichung Bhutia who also belonged to Sikkim) over the past few months and his consistent performances totally justify that. His with the ball speed, silky dribbles and stunning free kicks have earned him the praise of many veteran footballers of the country and his coach being his biggest fan (Matos was himself quoted saying this in an interview). Defensively he is also quite capable but he is the fulcrum of this team while building attacks. Going forward as well he is no mug in terms of scoring (he has already bagged 8 goals in 25 competitive matches, only Indian to score in the BRICS). Thus it goes without saying if India has to proceed a fair way in this competition this lad has to fire all cylinders.

Abhijit Sarkar (Forward): When Bengali strikers are evaporating away fast from the Indian football circuit in a rapid manner this young turk from Bengal has made scoring ridiculously easy and at an immaculate level of consistency. Having scored already 7 goals in a handful of just 17 games the opponent defenders would have to do their homework really well to stop this guy from sneaking one past them. His turn of pace, good height, strength in the air, decent first touch, both on and off the ball speed can send opponents for a toss. Basically ever since he burst onto the scene the team’s miseries up front have pretty much ended. The coach himself rates the kid very highly and has held him in high appraisal and he would definitely be a vital cog in the upcoming World Cup in India’s hunt for glory.

Well, we sincerely hope that these kids deliver to their full potential and the u-17 national team may fare to the best of their abilities such that we can savour this tournament for the rest of our lives. Fingers crossed. Best of luck Blue Colts. Roar and shine.