New Delhi: Asian Football Confedration (AFC) chief and FIFA presidential candidate Shaikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa on Saturday assured full support to AIFF in hosting the 2017 U-17 FIFA World Cup in India.
"I am sure India will put up a great performance. India will have the AFC's support and my support personally," Shaikh Salman said in his address before handing over the baton to India for the under-17 World Cup here.
The All India Football Federation today formally flagged off its preparations to host the mega FIFA sanctioned event.
"In keeping with the desire to ensure it is a world class event, we have also awarded the U-16 AFC Championship 2016 to India," the Bahraini royal said.
"It's only the beginning. Emotion is attached to football and that is what we want to bring to India. Hope the professional league and U-17 World Cup combines to create a huge force in the country."
AIFF president Praful Patel said India will aim to bid for hosting the Under-20 World Cup and Club World Cup after the 2017 event.
"We really have to put our socks and a lot needs to be done. We cannot develop Indian football just like that," Patel said during the event that was attended by former India captains Chuni Goswami and Bhaichung Bhutia besides current skipper Sunil Chhetri.
Film personalities and ISL club owners Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham were also present alongside India U-17 coach Nicolai Adam, AIFF secretary Kushal Das and Tournament Director Javier Ceppi.
The U-17 ball was handed over to captain Amarjeet Singh.
1962 Asian Games gold medal winning captain Goswami said, "I will go by the statistics and international tournaments of that time. We were Asia number 1 for three consecutive years and I am lucky to be the captain on all three occasions but I have to mention the names of PK Banerjee, Tulsidas Balaram, late Jarnail Singh, Peter Thangaraj.
"Without them we could not have won them. I think we should have qualified for the 1962 World Cup in Chile. We had beaten Korea thrice and also Japan."
Bhutia, on his part said, it is the right tournament for India to host.