CHENNAI: Having drawn with two-time champions Ghana, Colombia and USA, India will have their task cut out in the under-17 World Cup. To help the hosts’ prepare for the tournament, starting in October, the AIFF organized exposure tours, including trips to the US, Mexico and Australia. However, the Luis Norton de Matos-coached Indian side suffered a blow recently as their US trip got cancelled due to the visa process becoming more stringent in recent times.
U-17 World Cup team COO Abhishek Yadav informed that they were unable to apply for the visas within stipulated time for the tour. “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,” Yadav told TOI on Tuesday.
“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 October 6 and the matches against the US would have surely kept the boys in better stead,” Yadav said.