Bhutia congratulates U-23 squad for winning SAFF Cup

Updated: Dec 19, 2009, 23:16 PM IST

Mumbai: Congratulating the U-23 squad for winning the SAFF Championship, India captain Bhaichung Bhutia on Saturday said the win was a welcome change for the team as there were no tournaments for that particular age group.

“It is a positive change to send the under-23 boys for the SAFF Championship as there were no tournaments for that particular age group,” he said.

The tournament gave a chance to the juniors who would otherwise have been sidelined by the members of the senior team, said Bhutia, who was here to kick off the South Mumbai Soccer Challenge along with AIFF president and Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel.

204 schools have registered for the two-day event, from which 24 players will be picked by former India player Santosh Kashyap.

These players will attend a camp to be conducted by coaches from the English Championships side Queen Park Rangers, following which two players will be picked to travel abroad and train with QPR for a six to eight-week stint.

Meanwhile, Patel said the AIFF along with FIFA was taking concrete steps towards building better infrastructure for the sport in India.

“The AIFF is in the process of setting up three football academies, while India has also been sanctioned seven artificial football pitches by the FIFA,” he said.