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FIFA U-17 World Cup: Biggest-Ever International Football Tournament In India Begins Today

News World India | 0
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| } October 6 , 2017 , 08:43 IST

In a nation dominated by cricket, badminton and tennis, India is also making its presence felt in football, as it hosts the FIFA Under-17 World Cup which begins on Friday. As the host nation, India will also be participating in the World Cup for the first time.

On Friday, India will be playing against the US and Ghana will play Colombia at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi, while New Zealand will be playing Turkey and Paraguay will play Mali at the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai.

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India had won the bid to host the FIFA World Cup 2017 in December 2013 after much apprehension from authorities on whether the preparations would be complete by then, whether more corruption would take place as witnessed at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and even whether India should bid at all considering India's football rankings.

However, in the span of 4 years, India is FIFA ready, having spent nearly Rs 90 crore in refurbishing the playing areas to match FIFA standards. Ranked 154 in the world in 2013, India jumped 47 places to rank as 107 in the world in 2017.

Although other nations would clearly have better experienced and talented players, the FIFA World Cup is an excellent way India can make its presence felt in the field of football as well as provide exposure and experience to its young football stars.

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"For a country like India, the priority remains to make a mark on the World stage. The U-17 World Cup hosting rights could not have come at a better time. The very fact that our boys will be getting a chance to rub shoulders with the best of the world is amazing," All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Praful Patel said. 

"The overall infrastructure of the country has been improved to be at par with international standards, which will benefit Indian football immensely," Patel added.

The matches of the 17th edition of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup will be played at 6 venues with 24 teams comprising of more than 550 players.

The nations participating in the FIFA U-17 World Cup are Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger, India, Iran, Iraq, Japan, DPR Korea, England, France, Germany, Spain, Turkey, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, USA, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Paraguay.