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Former footballers Carlos Valderrama and Marcel Desailly, on Wednesday, said that the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup is a big opportunity for young Indian players to gain some international exposure. “It’s a huge opportunity for the Indian U-17 team,” said former Colombian great Valderrama, “If you want to go to Real Madrid, then this is your opportunity. All the big scouts and agents will be watching, so enjoy and grab this opportunity. You don’t get too many opportunities in football. This is their moment to shine and stand out.”
Former France defender Marcel Desailly said that the players should be prepared to handle the pressures of playing a tournament as big as this on home soil. “The Indian team playing at home is something very special,” he said, “They should be prepared physically and psychologically very well because it is tough to handle pressure playing on home soil. We won the World Cup in 1998 on home soil because we were able to convert that pressure into positive energy on the field and have that extra performance.”
“Unfortunately, I haven’t seen them play, being the first time they are hosting this event. It is a big encouragement, opportunity for youths to develop their game,” said former Nigerian player Emmanuel Amuneke said, “The U-17 boys need to believe in themselves. Their journey starts here and if they can prove themselves and believe in their ability as a team, play collectively and see how they can make it to the group stage, the opportunity would be great for them,” the ex-coach of Nigerian U17 team added.
The three players alongwith Spaniard Fernando Morientes and Mexican Jorge Campos were invited to a play an exhibition match at Navi Mumbai’s DY Patil Stadium in the run-up to the U-17 World Cup. It is the first FIFA event to be held in India and the matches are spread across six cities – Navi Mumbai, Delhi, Guwahati, Kochi, Kolkata and Goa – with the first two games to be played on October 6.