Mumbai: Jackson Singh, among the probables who are training under national coach Luis Norton de Matos for the upcoming FIFA Under 17 World Cup to be hosted by India in October, is optimistic that the hosts could create history in their debut appearance in the tournament.
"I hope we can do our best for the country and we can create history in football," said the Manipuri midfielder at the media interaction in Mumbai on Friday, ahead of the U-17 World Cup draw.
Hosts India join African side Niger and Oceania outfit New Caledonia in making their U-17 World Cup debut.
India would play their preliminary Group A league games in New Delhi. The other centres to host matches in the 6- 28 October tournament are Mumbai, Kolkata (which will host the final), Kochi, Guwahati and Goa.
"If I want to play in India I would like to play for Bengaluru FC," said Jackson when asked whom would he like to represent in club football in the country.
"We learnt how to hold on to the ball and how to finish well," said the youngster when asked about the lessons that the team learnt on its recent tour of Europe.
"We are preparing well, we will all give our best," he added.
India, given direct entry by virtue of hosting the tournament, are among five Asian countries who will play in the tournament - the others being Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Japan.
Nigerian football legend Nwankwo Kanu, sitting beside the young Indian, said the tournament provided a "big platform" for players like Jackson.
"The whole country would be watching, it will be great for his career," said Kanu who lifted the U-17 World Cup with Nigeria in 1993 in Japan.
"Who says India can't win? Bringing the U-17 World Cup is an achievement and good for Indian football. This is a stepping stone for many players and opens doors for them."
Five-time winners Nigeria have not qualified for this edition of the biennial tournament that began in 1985 in China, and Kanu - who also played for top European clubs Arsenal and Inter Milan - said his country was not good enough to make it this time around albeit they lifted the title in 2013 and 2015.
"We were not good enough to be here," said Kanu.
Argentina star Esteban Cambiasso, who was part of the squad that finished third in 1995, advised the Indian team to play without fear.
"Playing the World Cup in your own country is huge. There will be pressure but you need to enjoy and live the moment. I hope the attitude of the players and the coach is always positive," he said.
Incidentally, South American football giants Argentina too have not qualified for the U-17 World Cup.
Published Date: Jul 07, 2017 10:28 pm | Updated Date: Jul 07, 2017 10:28 pm