What can India learn from the U-17 World Cup experience?Last updated on Oct 13, 2017, 09:23 pm
India's U-17 World Cup campaign came to an end after having failed to qualify for the Round of 16 stage.
During the group stage, India lost all the three matches against US, Colombia and Ghana, conceded nine goals and scored just one.
Having played their first ever FIFA World Cup, let's look at what India can draw from this experience.
India's group stage results
India lost the World Cup opener to US 0-3, went down 1-2 to Colombia, and were drubbed 0-4 in their last group stage match against Ghana.
Gulf in quality and experience
While playing at the world stage has been a great learning experience for India's youngsters, the stark difference in quality, in comparison to most of the participating teams, was apparent.
The fact that India didn't have an organized U-17 team until 2015, reflects the lack of efforts in training and development at youth level.
Grassroots development is a major learning from all this.
In terms of India's game
Positives for India
India didn't lack in passion but their overall game in terms of skills and tactics has a long way to go.
Going in as minnows, ability to defend constantly is a key aspect and Indian team's defensive calibre has received praise from coaches of US and Colombia.
The tournament has also taught the Indian colts the ability to deal with pressure.
Full marks for trying
How did we fare?
Looking at just the results, one would mistakenly dismiss India's campaign as a failure.
Consider this, Indian team is the lowest-ranked team at the event and only qualified as hosts. We aren't even the best in Asia.
In coach de Matos's words, "If we can prove that we can play on same page as FIFA U-17 World Cup opposition, there is a victory in that."
It's only the beginning
Don't let the progress stop
While we may not have any big results to show for, playing the World Cup in itself is a start which can lead India to new heights in football.
The worry is, while investment went into preparation for this specific tournament, the efforts to keep up the development shouldn't end with it.
To remain competitive in the long run, structural changes need to be undertaken.