With the FIFA U-17 World Cup slated to begin on October 6, and India’s very first FIFA event at home, tournament director Javier Ceppi confirmed that there has been an unexpected decline in the third phase of ticket sales in Guwahati. Ceppi also added that the ticket sales in Guwahati is currently lagging behind Kolkata and Kochi. “Ticket sales in Guwahati were extremely strong in Phase I and Phase II but have unexpectedly declined currently,” Ceppi said.
France, Japan, Honduras and New Caledonia will be playing their Group E matches in Guwahati while a Group F match between Mexico and Chile is also scheduled to be played at the Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium, which has a capacity of 23,850.
“It may seem to people that not too attractive teams are here, but let me tell you France has Amine Gouiri who was the top scorer of UEFA U-17 Championship with eight goals, he already plays in Olympique Lyonnais (Lyon) for their senior team.”
“Takefusa Kubo plays for Japan — he was the star of Barcelona youth system and is the youngest scorer in the J- League. We saw him last year in the AFC U-16 Championships, and he is an absolute phenomenon. He is bound to be the best Asian player ever. Such is the quality of the players coming in Guwahati for the games,” Ceppi added.
Chile club presidents believe that their U-17 squad is capable of beating their senior clubs in the country.
“I have spoken to the club presidents of Chile football clubs, who have produced the likes of Arturo Vidal, Alexis Sanchez, Claudio Bravo, Gary Medel and they were confident that their U-17 team is capable of beating the senior clubs in Chile. Mexico, as we all know, has an excellent reputation in the tournament and are a force to be reckoned with,” said Ceppi.
With the playoffs (pre-quarters, quarters and a semifinals) scheduled to be played in Guwahati, the tournament organisers are not worried about filling the stadium.
“Football is a religion in Guwahati and other parts of the North-East India, and hence, we are not very worried about filling the stadium. The internet penetration in the city is good and we don’t see the online sale of tickets as a concern; however, fans just need a reminder for the best live football they are about to witness,” said Ceppi.