The football fans of Jammu and Kashmir are all set to get a taste of top quality Indian club football as premier clubs like Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Dempo will be vying for the top honours in the Federation Cup which will be held in the state in August, next year.
“Next year’s Federation Cup will be held in Jammu and Kashmir in August,” All India Football Federation (AIFF) general secretary Kushal Das said.
As the inaugural franchise league ISL had to be re-scheduled thrice, the AIFF had to postpone the blue-riband tourney Fed Cup to December and the I-League to January. “There’s no (further) change in the dates of this year’s Federation Cup which will be held from December 28-January 10 in Goa this year,” he said.
The AIFF general secretary further admitted that they did not have enough resources to hold the prestigious Nehru Cup, the only international tournament that was last held in 2012.
“Frankly speaking, we don’t have sponsors for the Nehru Cup which requires a huge budget. It’s difficult for the federation to organise this until we get sponsors. Earlier, ONGC sponsored, but with the resources that we have it’s difficult to hold such a big tournament. We’re trying our best.”
On the Indian Super Cup, which too has been all but scrapped, he said: “We don’t think there’s much value left for the Super Cup. If the executive committee decides then we may organise it again.”
U-15 LEAGUE TO START
Meanwhile, in their bid to prepare a competitive India U-17 squad that will play in the FIFA U-17 World Cup in three years from now, the AIFF is mulling on starting an U-15 I-League in order to tap the best talent for the big ticket tournament.
Announcing its long list of plans that the AIFF has mooted ahead of the 2017 tournament, Das further said they would appoint a foreign coach for the U-17 besides also roping in a professional CEO. The next step is U-15 league involving 24-28 teams this season onwards. “It would consist of 10-12 I-League teams depending on the bids that we get, ISL teams (from next year), a few academies (of AIFF, IFA etc) and will be held in a home and away basis. We’re planning to start this tournament roughly in December-January, after the Coca Cola Cup (for the sub-juniors) gets over. We’ll pick seven players from them,” the AIFF general secretary said.
“Coca Cola starting on August 23, where the first scouting will take place. We’ll pick seven and pick up two academies. We want this to hold over a period of four to five months at least to bridge the big gap. As of now, we’ve youth competition over a period of one month or a few weeks. It’s big fallacy in Indian football.
We’ll get FIFA support with some sponsors,” he said.
He said he infrastructure development was secondary as their main aim to build the Indian side for the U-17 meet.
“We’re not much worried about the organisational aspect like infrastructure. The basic amenities would just be enough. We just need to tweak the basic structure but yes we’ve to start the work very soon. I’m more worried about the team development because if we are not able to put up a competitive Indian team then it would be quite an embarrassment,” said Das.
Revealing their plan of appointing a foreign coach for the U-17 team, he said: “We want to appoint a coach before the final round of Coca Cola cup before December. We want him to participate in the final round of the Coca Cola Cup. It will be a foreign coach as we don’t have a good Indian coach at this level,” he said adding that they’re in consult with FIFA regarding this.
On CEO’s appointment for the U-17 World Cup, he said: “We’ve also shortlisted about 20 for the CEO appointment for the U-17 World Cup. The final round of screening will take place during the last week of this month.”
Brazil colts are likely to visit India along with teams from Russia, China and South Africa for the proposed BRICS tournament next year. The proposal had come during the 6th BRICS Summit in Brazil, which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from July 14-16, just after the conclusion of the FIFA World Cup on July 13. “Our Prime Minister recently attended the BRICS Summit in Brazil.
They have sent a proposal to organise a football tournament among the BRICS nations. The blueprint is not yet ready but the organisers are keen to hold the first edition in India,” Das said.
He also said the process has been initiated with the visit of Brazil ambassador. “He had already met us to take this forward. Nothing has been finalised but it may take place early next year. The AIFF has requested them to send either U-17 or U-19 teams to bridge the embarrassing gap between the teams with India ranked 150th while Brazil are world No 7,” said Das.
“The only point of concern is that how India would compete with the nations like Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa. So we have sent a proposal whether they can send their U-17 or 19 teams to compete in the tournament. I think it would be a better idea,” he added.
In another development, the AIFF general secretary said Czech professional club — FC Viktoria Plzen — will tour India in the second week of January in an exchange programme.