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'The Indian U17 football team got unmatched exposure before World Cup,' Suresh Singh

The young midfielder did not shy away from agreeing that there are high expectations from him and his teammates from the FIFA U-17 World Cup

The Indian U17 football team got unmatched exposure before World Cup, Suresh Singh

Siddharth Mishra

Published: 29 Jun 2021 1:13 PM GMT

The U-17 Fifa World Cup 2017 hosted in India saw some glimpses of many young talents on the international stage for the first time. Some of those young players who came to India have become big names in world football right now. Phil Foden, Jaden Sancho, Ferran Torres, and Eric Garcia, to name a few, are playing for top clubs in the world but were part of the U-17 World Cup held in India.

The Bridge spoke to young Bengaluru FC midfielder Suresh Wangjam about why the expectations are high from the batch of players that played the World Cup and how far they have come in the last four years.

"Expectations are high from us because we played the World Cup. But before the World Cup, the exposure we got as the part of the preparatory process was something no other Indian player has ever got," said Suresh, when asked why the expectations are higher from that batch of players.

Many people are unaware that, as a part of the preparations leading to the world cup, the Indian team went on many exposure trips and played teams like Germany, Norway, and Brazil. On one of those exposure trips, the Indian team faced Norway and the young forward Erling Haaland. Haaland, without a doubt, is one of the best strikers in the world right now, and last season led Borussia Dortmund to the German Cup. He also finished as the top scorer in this season's UEFA Champions League. Suresh had the humungous task to mark Haaland in that game. India tried their best but lost the game to two late goals after Sanjiv Stalin received a red card in the second half.

Next up was Vinicius Jr, the young Brazillian winger, who scored a brace for Real Madrid to knockout Liverpool from the Champions League. India played Brazil in the 2016 U-17 BRICS cup, which saw all the five BRICS nations participating in the tournament. The Blue Colts lost 3-1 to Brazil, with Vinicius Jr. scoring one of the goals.

The English team that won the U-17 World Cup in 2017 had players like Phil Foden, Jaden Sancho, and Callum Hudson Odoi. Sancho and Foden are an integral part of the Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City team, respectively, while Hudson Odoi won the Champions League with Chelsea in May.

The Indian players and these foreign players were on a similar wavelength four years back but now are poles apart. The gap does show how far India is lagging behind top footballing nations, but the impact made by the players is also evident in the Indian Super League.

"Players like Rahim Ali (Chennaiyn FC), Amarjit Singh Kiyam (FCGoa), and Aniket Jadhav (Jamshedpur FC) have already become regular starters; for their teams," said Suresh, on the impact made by his team-mates at the U-17 FIFA World Cup.

The team at The Bridge got the chance to have a conversation with the Indian team and Bengaluru FC midfielder Suresh Wangjam, and he did share a few things about his life and why Gurpreet Singh Sandhu calls him his son, and much more. Do follow this space because those stories will also be live soon.

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