Panaji: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on Friday gave green signal to the Goa Government for hosting the AFC U-16 Championship, which will be held from September 15 to October 2 next year.
A team of AFC officials, which is on a three-day visit to inspect the progress of the infrastructure and ground condition of the two main venues and eight practice grounds, met Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar this morning and gave their go-ahead to host the tournament, All India Football Federation (AIFF) official Savio Messias said.
The AFC delegation comprising Jinho Yu, Chetan Kulkarni, Kumarason Chandran and Darren Stewart had a meeting with the Chief Minister at his residence.
Parsekar promised all his support to the tournament.
"We are very happy that Goa has been selected as the venue for this prestigious international football event. Football is in Goa's blood and the state government ensures all its support, help and cooperation for the tournament. We will make sure that all the requirements for the facilities are complied well before the deadline given to us (June 30, 2016)," the Chief Minister said.
Kulkarni, Head of Operations of AFC, said they were happy with the facilities that Goa has offered and thankful to the government for its "pro-active support".
"We expect a great tournament next year, where all 16 teams will definitely enjoy all the hospitality of the Goans," he said.
The Tournament Director for the AFC U-16 Championship Goa
2016, Javier Ceppi, said, "It is very good to see how interested Goa is in hosting the event, and how supportive the state government and all their agencies, especially SAG, have been so far.
"We expect to have a great tournament in 2016 and for that to happen, the continued support of the Government of Goa will be the key," he said.
The AFC delegation inspected the two main stadia for the competition -- GMC Bambolim and PJN Fatorda -- along with eight potential training grounds -- Tilak Maidan, Utorda, Cuncolim, Assolna, Benaulim, Navelim, Raia and Nagoa -- to be used by 16 nations that will take part in the event.
The AFC Under-16 Championship India 2016 is the final stage of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup India 2017, and will involve 16 nations and 31 matches to be played in two stadia in Goa.
The 16 teams that have made it to the AFC U-16 Championship are Uzbekistan, Oman, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, IR Iran, Kuwait, Malaysia, DPR Korea, Korea Republic, Japan, Australia, Vietnam, Thailand, Nepal, UAE and India.
The Championship will serve as the final official tournament preparation of the Indian team that will play the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017 and will have a huge influence in confirming Goa as a venue for the World Cup.