FIFA Under 17 World Cup is finally here and India, with a population of over one billion, is all geared up to welcome the extravagant tournament. The nation will bleed blue and support the 21 soldiers who are representing India for the first time at a global level across any age group. Although the senior side came close to playing in the 1950 World Cup, the dream of India featuring at a FIFA event will come true tomorrow. Coached by Luis Norton de Matos, these boys are the future of Indian football and will count themselves lucky to get such an exposure so early in their careers. Reaching this level has not been a cakewalk for any of these talented teenagers and there are some who have already caught the eye of the millions. Here, are the top five Indian U-17 players for the World Cup:
Amarjit Singh Kiyam: Amarjit Singh Kiyam’s name will go into the history books as the boy who led India in the first FIFA World Cup tournament the country participated in. Kiyam has a humble background in Manipur. He started playing football thanks to his uncle, and was born and brought up in Manipur. He started his training at the Chandigarh Football Academy (CFA). Amarjit caught the immediate attention of all the selectors during the trials for the Indian team for the Under-17 World Cup. In 2012, Amarjit helped the CFHA team to make it to the Subroto Cup final. However, it was his three goals in CFHA’s 3-0 win over the India U-16 team in 2015 that gave him his big break. It has been two years since he scored the three goals in CFHA’S 3-0 win that gave him his break but so much has changed in this time.
Komal Thattal: The poster boy of India U-17, Komal Thatal will have the duty to support his attackers and assist them with scoring opportunities. Thattal comes from a humble family in Manipur. Both of his parents are tailors. But despite their difficult financial conditions, Komal’s parents never came in their son’s dream of playing football and provided him with the best possible facilities. He has been a promising prospect for the Indian side and is known for his nimble feet. It was Thattal who scored a goal against Brazil in the BRICS Cup earlier this year.
Anwar Ali: Anwar Ali or Billa as he is fondly called by his peers is a crucial cog in India’s backline. Born in Adampur, in the district of Jalandhar, Anwar is one of the four players in the squad from the Minerva Academy. Compared to others, Anwar came into the team pretty late but since then has established himself in the playing XI. Anwar’s biggest strengths is his height and he would also look to make most it.
Abhijit Sarkar: Born in Bandel, West Bengal, Abhijit Sarkar is one of the most important players in the Indian squad. A prolific goal scorer, Sarkar is expected to be one of the first names on the team sheet come the first game of the World Cup. Though it must be said that the 17-year-old has had to do much more than just develop his game to reach the Indian team. He was spotted at a very early age of five and has been playing the sport ever since.
Dheeraj Singh Moinrangthem: It’s highly unlikely that de Matos would go with anybody but Dheeraj when it comes goalkeeping duties. He has been the team’s first choice since the AFC U-16 Championships last year. The boy from Manipur will be quite busy during India’s matches but he should count on his experience of coming against big sides. A good shot-stopper, Dheeraj knows a thing or two being the hardest barrier for opponents. Dheeraj is known for his ability to strike balance between aggressive and composed goalkeeping.