National team midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh feels hosting the U-17 FIFA World Cup later in 2017 will provide Indian football a much-needed fillip and will aid in developing a strong senior squad.
“I think it’s a great platform for the Indian football and especially for the kids in this country. Who knows they could be playing in Europe soon,” Eugeneson said.
Hailing from the north-eastern part of the country, which also makes up for more than half the squad that will represent India at the U-17 World Cup next year, the 30-year-old central midfielder gave his views on how hosting and participating in the FIFA tournament, a first for the nation, will help the senior team.
He said, “Obviously, the youngsters are gaining a lot of exposure. They are already playing against higher ranked teams, and they will play against these big teams in the tournament as well.
They are already learning so much, and this will only increase when the competition begins.
“At such an early age, they would have already gained such valuable experience. I am sure some of these players can end up playing in Europe someday.
And when it happens, playing alongside these players will benefit the senior Indian players and the team.
Eventually, there will be high chances for the Indian team to qualify for the senior World Cup. It, of course, is a process, but it’s a great start.”
Apart from participating in the tournament, merely hosting it has a lot of merits, and Eugeneson recognises them well.
“FIFA obviously has set certain standards from the venues, and consequently, the Indian venues will also need to meet those criterions for the coming year.
This importantly includes the training grounds that must be of a set quality, for the travelling teams which come to practice on.
In the future, the Indian FA must maintain those standards. So eventually and hopefully, India will follow all these, so the infrastructure of Indian football will grow,” he added.
The last few months have been exciting for the Indian football. The senior team has gone up the FIFA rankings to the 137th place, and Eugeneson’s club, Bengaluru FC made history by becoming the first Indian football club to qualify for the AFC Cup finals.
“Looking at the FIFA rankings itself, we have gone up. I think we are steadily improving. The FIFA U-17 World Cup will help our mission further.
The exposure, the experience that can be gained by playing on a world stage, it is different from playing in a league or at the national stage.
This builds confidence, and it builds in their character, it helps them perform better and helps them become better players. Consequently, it helps Indian football.”
India will host the U-17 World Cup from October 6-8.