In a stellar year for Indian football, India participated in its first ever FIFA World Cup, the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup wherein hosts India were drawn in Group A alongwith USA, Colombia and Ghana.
For India, the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup kicked-off on October, 6, 2017 when India faced USA in the second match of Group A at a jam-packed Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in the capital in attendance of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Indian Colts battled hard against the USA but went down fighting 0-3.
On October 9, 2017; Jeakson Singh created history when he became the first Indian to score in a FIFA World Cup after his glancing header in the 81st minute off a Sanjeev Stalin corner kick went smashing into the back of the Colombian net.
Although Jeakson Singh’s goal had tied the proceedings at 1-1, it was heartbreak for the 55,000 strong Jawharlal Nehru Stadium when the opposition regained the lead almost immediately after conceding, as the game ended with Colombia edging out India 2-1. However, the Indian performance was there for all to see and the colts earned praise from the myriads of supporters present.
Even Colombian coach, Orlando Restrepo, congratulated “the coach and Indian players for their will power”.
“The last fifteen minutes was stressful especially when India scored. It was really very intense and we had to make a lot of tactical adjustments with the way India played tonight. Both their center backs were unbelievable at their job and had a very successful game,” he added.
Although India lost 0-4 against Ghana in their last match, the hardwork, never-say-die attitude and persistence of the ‘team for the future’ had taken over the nation and in football revolution which swept the country.
AIFF president Praful Patel and the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee had stated then, “This success only points out that if we can host the U-17 World Cup we are ready for other FIFA tournaments as well. I need to thank Govt. of India, the respective state governments and the government of FIFA.”
“Besides giving us the confidence that we are capable to host such a World Cup, it also gives us an understanding that we can actually build a world-class Indian team with our boys.”
“The World Cup has caught the imagination of the kids and youngsters and you can gauge it by the attendance in the stands. There have also been a huge number of ladies who have turned up for the matches. We have invested much into our Grassroots Development Programme and will continue to attract the kids to the game,” Praful Patel added.