Indian football's moment of reckoning is here

NEW DELHI
5 Oct 2017

Propelled from the rear end to the centrestage by virtue of being hosts, "sleeping giants" India would be eyeing a football revolution with the FIFA under-17 World Cup -- a tournament which promises to deliver the stars of tomorrow.
Delhi and Mumbai will play host to Friday's four opening day games, including one featuring the home side. But the tournament's significance for the country will go beyond the results that will come on the field. Once called the "sleeping giants" by FIFA, India have not exactly woken up to the potential that the world body saw. FIFA has since rephrased it to "passionate giants" and all the right noises have been made to insist that India are inching in the right direction. Hosting the first FIFA World Cup ever, India would be home to the prodigal talent that makes international football fascinating and exhilarating in equal measure, this month.

Brazil's Vinicius Junior, who is set to join world football club giants Real Madrid next year, is missing after his club refused to release him. But there are still enough names to mesmerise the football fans in the 24-team showpiece which will run till October 28 across six cities. England winger Jadon Sancho, American striker Josh Sargent, Abel Ruiz, Ferran Torres of Spain and German captain Jann-Fiete Arp, who have already become the hot properties in club football, are all there. Rubbing shoulders with these budding stars will be 21 Indian boys who will become the first footballers of this country to play in any FIFA World Cup. In fact, a total of 504 young hopefuls would begin to dream of following in the footsteps of famous graduates of the tournament, such as Neymar Jr, Ronaldinho, Luis Figo, Xavi, Iker Casillas, Gianluigi Buffon and Andres Iniesta, to name a few.

India will become the fifth Asian country -- after China, Japan, South Korea and UAE -- to host the tournament which was started in 1985.