Doha: President Praful Patel has said that All India Football Federation (AIFF) will bid for the Under-20 FIFA World Cup in the next few years as part of its drive to further develop football in the country.
India is hosting the under-17 FIFA World Cup next year and Patel said the progress made and publicity gained since winning the rights to host the Under-17 global event for the first time will help in bidding for the under-20 FIFA World Cup.
"Under-17 World Cup next year will be the defining moment of Indian football. We have had intense focus on the under-16 and under-17 age-groups and will ensure the national team spends the next few years training and playing together," Patel said.
"They will give their best during the under-17 World Cup next year and following the tournament we will bid for the FIFA under-20 World Cup. We have told the FIFA Competitions Committee that we are keen to host the event at the earliest available opportunity in 2019, and this will further give a boost to our grassroots initiatives," the AIFF chief told website www.sc.qa.
Patel said the hosting of FIFA under-20 World Cup will help in facilitating the continued development of the next generation of Indian footballers.
He said India must ensure that 'right steps' were taken as it targets qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
"We will aspire towards qualifying for the 2022 World Cup because of the support our national team is going to receive and will need to ensure that right steps are taken towards realising this objective," said Patel, who is also an AFC vice president.
"Many of the current Under-16 boys will be a well-knit group and will be ready for national team duty in time for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, which will start around the same time.
"Indian football's further growth will be of direct long-term to Qatar football, including the successful hosting of the 2022 World Cup (by Qatar)."