Ahead of the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, the All India Football Association (AIFF) had organised exposure tours, including trips to the US, Mexico and Australia to bolster the Indian colts' preparation for the tournament. However, the hosts were left stranded as their US trip got cancelled due to the visa process becoming more stringent in recent times.
It was confirmed by U-17 team's COO Abhishek Yadav on Tuesday, in a report on The Times of India, that the players were unable to apply for the visas before time.
"When both AIFF and the US Soccer Federation approved the tour, the boys were in Europe playing friendly matches in Italy, France and Portugal. So we could have only applied for the visas upon their return. By the time they came back, it was too late.
Although we did get dates for the visa interview, it would have been a futile exercise as the visa process has now become more lengthy and stringent. With a lot of tourists also visiting the US at this time, getting tourist visas were also difficult," said Yadav.
The Luis Norton de Matos-coached side are slated to participate in a four-nation youth tournament in Mexico in July where they would face Chile and Colombia. Yadav stated that the exposure tour was planned well in advance to give young guns valuable experience ahead of the all-important event.
"The US team has played in the U-17 World Cup in 15 of the last 16 editions. We planned the tour so that our boys get a good exposure before the Mexico tournament.
However, as it turned out, India will start their World Cup campaign against the US on 6 October and the matches against the US would have surely kept the boys in better stead," Yadav said.
It looks likely that the Indian team will now miss one of the two exposure trips. The squad is scheduled to report in New Delhi on 15 July for a brief camp before jetting off to Mexico for the youth tournament. India are drawn with two-time champions Ghana, Colombia and USA in Group A.
Updated Date: Sep 28, 2017 15:34:26 IST