AIFF keen to scout talent from U-15 tournament

PTI| Updated: Dec 23, 2013, 16:47 PM IST

Kolkata: After successfully bidding for the U-17 World Cup, the All India Football Federation wants to use its domestic U-15 tournament as a platform to identify players for the prestigious event.

"We`re successful in getting U-17 World Cup to India. We will use Coca Cola Cup as a platform for identifying the talents for U-17 Cup," AIFF general secretary Kushal Das said today at programme to announce their road map for World Cup in 2017. Das further said they were keen to qualify for the future editions of the U-17 World Cups and make regular appearances in the age group AFC Championships.

"We hope in years to come the Cup will not just be the tournament to identify talents for the U-17 team but provide a platform for other age group tournaments and future World Cups. We should look at the AFC age group tournaments, qualifying into the (U-17) World Cup in maybe 2019 and 2021."

The AIFF however is still to come out with a comprehensive plan whether to make the Coca Cup in a tier basis to regularly supply players and Das said they would unveil the details in a few months. "The plans are still being finalised. But what we have decided in principle that the Coca Cola Cup should actually be the platform for identifying talents. We`re still working on it how it`s going to be done.

"The whole idea is not just the 2017 U-17 World Cup, that`s the target for sure. But besides that the Coca Cola Cup should also be the youth development event for all other AFC and World Cup events in the U-16 and U-17 categories. We have a much larger picture in mind. The plans will be unveiled in a few months."

Formerly known as Mir Iqbal Hussain Trophy, the U-15 tournament`s format will eventually be changed and there would be more age groups so that it regularly supplies the players. "We will keep increasing the age group so it`s an overall plan remains the same. The U-16 team should play in the AFC and the U-17 World Cup on a regular basis. We need to fine-tune the plans," Das said.

Terming this a new beginning for the Indian football, AIFF general secretary Das said: "There are two aspects involved in it the organisational and the need to have a very competitive Indian team. Both the aspects are equally important."

"We are determined to do it in a much more inclusive manner where in all the schools, district and state association come together to identify the best talents. It`s an overall plan for development of Indian football." Sharing his experience, Uttam Rai, U-19 captain who recently came from a training in Colorado, said: "Mir Iqbal Hussain Trophy is a great platform for the players. You just have to be patient and keep playing, opportunity will come."

Five young players were also picked from the AIFF camp for a coaching-cum-conditioning camp under the tutelage of 1970 World Cup winning captain Carlos Alberto Torres in Brazil. The trainees: Amit Tudu, Subrata Das, Prasanjit Chakraborty, Jitendra Singh and Abhijit Sarkar.