As India gets ready to host arguably its biggest football extravaganza the U- 17 FIFA World Cup from October 6- 28 , there is lot of high optimism what this mega event will do the future of Indian football.
As hosts India has a dual responsibility. First, to show to the World that it can hold mega football events ahead too with stadiums / infrastructures in the right place. Secondly, the Indian team has to deliver the goods. And if they are able to go all the way then it will be icing on the cake. But that is easier said than done, given the competitiveness of the game – football.
As one takes a quick glance at the Indian side picked for the mega event. One is surprised to find that the backbone of the side are from two small cities – Chandigarh and Imphal.
As a result of this one when identifies the players in the squad finds that every third player in the 21-member squad has the Chandigarh Connect. These players who have come into the national team basically hail from two centres – Chandigarh Football Academy (CFA), established in 2000, or the Minerva Football Club.
The quartet comprising — Amarjeet Singh, Sanjeev Stalin, Prabhsukhan Gill and Jeakson Singh – are products of CFA while Anwar Ali, Nongdamba Naorem and Mohammad Shahjahan are associated with the I-League club Minerva Football Club. Jeakson switched from CFA to Minerva last year.
The Indian squad is led by the midfielder from Manipur, Amarjit Singh Kiyam. And he is not alone . His state is powerhouse in football . As he has many as seven other compatriots- Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem (GK), Boris Singh Thangjam (Defender, Jackson Singh Thounaojam (MF), Md Shah Jahan (MF), Nongdamba Naorem (MF), Suresh Singh Wangjam (MF), Ningthoinganba Meitei (MF).
So who would have thought that given a vast country like India – the fate of India’s U- 17 World Cup would lie on the shoulders of talents from Chandigarh and Imphal?. Guess No one. But then this is football . It has the uncanny ability to unearth talent form places where no one heard before. No wonder it is called the game of the masses world over.
India SQUAD – U- 17 World Cup
Goalkeepers: Dheeraj Singh, Prabhsukhan Gill, Sunny Dhaliwal;
Defenders: Boris Singh, Jitendra Singh, Anwar Ali, Sanjeev Stalin, Hendry Antonay, Namit Deshpande;
Midfielders: Suresh Singh, Ninthoinganba Meetei, Amarjit Singh Kiyam, Abhijit Sarkar, Komal Thatal, Lalengmawia, Jeakson Singh, Nongdamba Naorem, Rahul Kannoly Praveen, Md. Shahjahan;
Forwards: Rahim Ali, Aniket Jadhav
Coach : Luis Norton de Matos