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AIFF keen on hosting 2023 AFC Asian Cup, sending U-17 team to Europe after World Cup

The last couple of weeks have been eventful for Indian football fans. With two-time I-League champions Bengaluru FC joining the ISL roster, and a new Jamshedpur-based franchise and the news that the I-League will run simultaneously with the Indian Super League (ISL), the 2017-18 season promises to be an exciting one.

The Indian U-17 team celebrates its 2-0 win over the 'Italian U-17 team' on Friday. AIFF Media

File photo of the India U-17 football team. AIFF Media

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) also announced that the winner of the ISL will be given entry to the qualifying round of the AFC Cup giving the three-year-old league a much needed boost.

While the country is all set to host the FIFA U-17 World Cup in a few months’ time, the AIFF is keen on giving the U-17 team more exposure and experience following the tournament in October.

The Indian Express reports that the AIFF is planning on following neighbours China and making the U-17 team play in a European league for two seasons after the World Cup.

AIFF general secretary Kushal Das said, “The idea is to make the team play in the second or third division of a reputed European under-18 or under-19 league for at least two years. If it works out the way we have planned, it will really help player development.”

The fourth-tier of the German Bundesliga had announced that an Under-20 Chinese team would be allowed to play in the league with the Asian country looking to give more exposure to players to help realise Chinese president Xi Jinping's dream of winning the FIFA World Cup and establishing China as a global football super-power.

The report further added that the AIFF will table a bid to host the 2023 AFC Asian Cup — for which China, South Korea, Thailand and Indonesia have already expressed interest in hosting the event. With India close to qualifying for the 2019 edition, qualifying as hosts for the 2023 edition will help the country in putting its best foot forward during the tournament.

This follows the news that the football governing body in India had submitted an expression of interest to host the Under-20 FIFA World Cup in 2019.

AIFF president Praful Patel had said, "With India hosting the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 this year in October, we feel hosting the U-20 World Cup would be the best way to sustain the footballing momentum in India. Even though the event was held earlier this year in Asia in Korea Republic, we would be happy to discuss with FIFA about the possibility of hosting the event in India in 2019."

If the AIFF’s ambitious plans materialize, it will give Indian football a much needed impetus to wake up from its slumber and establish itself as an Asian footballing super-power.

Updated Date: Sep 28, 2017 14:38 PM

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