India U-17 football team captain Amarjit Singh Kiyam has said he and his teammates are giving their all to do well at the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017, starting October 6 in New Delhi.
The 16-year-old along with 20 other teenagers will be part of India's football history as the U-17 team is India's first representative at a FIFA World Cup at any level.
The Boys in Blue have been drawn in a tough group (Group A) alongside Colombia, USA and Ghana, but Amarjit says the boys are not feeling any pressure ahead of the much-anticipated football event. He also said the team has been preparing for its opener against the USA on October 6 by analysing videos of its opposition.
"There is no pressure on us nor are we nervous. We are confident of doing well in the tournament. We are playing in the first FIFA World Cup and we are ready to put our lives to do well for the country," Amarjit said on Saturday, September 30 in Gurgaon.
He added: "The preparations have been very good and we are looking forward to the tournament. We have seen videos of how United States (first match opponents) play. Anything can happen in a game of football and we will give our best to win matches."
Unprecedented focus on U-17 team
Unlike the powerhouses of world football, India have relied on extensive exposure trips to prepare the team for the prestigious event, which will be hosted by India for the first time.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) had extensively scouted to cherry pick bright young talents for the team. Former coach of the U-17 team Nicolai Adam played a key role in putting together the current batch of 21 members.
AIFF's focus on the U-17 team has even reportedly left legendary names of Indian football, including Sunil Chhetri and Baichung Bhutia jealous. According to a report in The Indian Express, the governing body of football in the country has spent an unprecedented sum of more than Rs 15 crore to get the team ready.
Under Luis Norton de Matos, the team has had several exposure tours, including trips to Portugal, Italy and Mexico, since the Portuguese tactician took over in January.
'My players will give their best'
De Matos though wants to keep the expectations realistic. While maintaining that his focus would be on defensive discipline in the upcoming tournament, the 63-year-old shed light on how the U-17 side's World Cup debut will help Indian football.
"It is difficult to build a strong team in seven months but we have done what we can in this short time. There is a gap between India and the other teams, say from Europe and South America," De Matos said.
He added: "So, I don't think much about the results and chances but I know my players will give their best. That is what they can do. I see this World Cup as a step forward for the future. India can build on this experience."
"Building on this experience, I believe India can be at par with other countries at this level [U-17)] in eight to 10 years. And after these 8-10 years, I hope seven to eight players from the current U-17 team should be in the senior national team in the prime of their career. That will serve Indian football well."