India on Thursday announced its 21-member football squad for the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup which shall be held across six cities in India from October.
The 21 member squad is dominated by a North East presence with eight players hailing from Manipur. The squad shall also have an international flavor with 2 Non-Residents Indians named in the squad.
India has been drawn in Group A alongside USA, Colombia and Ghana. The hosts face USA on October 6, followed by Colombia and Ghana on October 9 and October 12 respectively at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi.
“We believe that we are prepared for the FIFA U-17 World Cup We have worked hard and made progress, but at the same time we go directly to a high-level competition against some of the best teams in the world,” de Matos said in a release from All India Football Federation. “We will fight to win each match even if there is only five percent chance of winning. We will not give up and nothing is impossible in football. We plan to show the world that we are on the same page as them,” he added.
Two NRIs, Namit Deshpande and Sunny Dhaliwal, have been named in the team by head coach Luis Norton de Matos. Deshpande, a United States national, has a valid Indian passport while Dhaliwal has surrendered his Canadian passport and acquired an Indian one.
In an effort to field a strong team in the prestigious tournament, the AIFF had provided exposure tours for the U-17 side. They had played against Macedonia, Serbia, and Benfica amongst other teams.
They had also participated in a four-nation tournament in Mexico where they lost to the home side and Colombia but held Chile to a 1-1 draw with 10 men.