New Delhi: AIFF president Praful Patel on Thursday said he would urge FIFA to take up “seriously” India’s bid for the 2019 U-20 World Cup during the governing body’s executive committee meeting in Kolkata from October 26-28.
On the eve of the U-17 World Cup, the country’s first ever FIFA tournament, Patel spoke about Indian football’s future plans.
Besides the U-20 World Cup, the All India Football Federation is also eyeing a Club World Cup in 2020-21 and an AFC Asian Cup.
“We want to present some kind of a master plan to FIFA. We will look towards FIFA’s continued support, including financial and technical. We would urge FIFA to take up India’s bid for the 2019 U-20 World Cup seriously,” Patel told reporters here today.
He added, “There is positivity in FIFA’s mind and I did raise this issue with them, they are looking at it positively. We will have an opportunity to bring it in front of the executive committee where we will present India’s point of view. India is being looked upon very positively at FIFA level.”
He said there should not be a lull after the tournament.
“We will try to work on the Club World Cup. Originally, my plan was for 2018-19 but now that they have been decided, we shall pitch for 2020-21. So, the momentum that has been built around this U-17 World Cup should not be lost on Indian football.
“We will have to build up excitement within India.”
Patel visited the Indian team training session at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and had some encouraging words for the players.
“Everybody has realised that we are in a very tough group. Everybody acknowledges that if India makes it to the next level it will be fantastic for us.
“I spoke to the coach and they are saying don’t be surprised as there could be some upsets.”
Patel reiterated the AIFF’s commitment towards grassroot programme and the current U-17 squad.
“These players will be well paid, looked after by AIFF and kept as one consolidated team. They will be well compensated. This will be the nucleus for our future team. They will play the I-League, the coming one.
“This team is expected to be our mainline team as we move along. We are planning three back-to-back teams. The World Cup’s contribution is not only about finding this team and taking it forward. It creates a much larger awareness within the country for the next crop of youngsters.”
Asked about FIFA’s random dope tests, Patel said he is not worried about the Indian team.