The All India Football Federation awards ceremony took place in Mumbai on Thursday and speaking about high hopes for the nation's football team at the event attended by the mainstays of Indian football was the federation's president and member of parliament Praful Patel.
A proud Patel spoke about the country's foray into the top 100 of the FIFA rankings, terming it as an ongoing revolution in Indan football. "These are times of revolution. India breaking into 100 may sound easy but it itsn't. A lot of effort has gone in from every player and the coach" remarked Patel.
The former Minister of Civil Aviation then went onto claim that the next target would be to get into the top 50 of the FIFA rankings, leading to FIFA World Cup qualification by the year 2022.
"I think the next big thing is to break into top 50. That is our next goal. By 2022, [India] atleast hope to qualify for World Cup" said Patel.
The President believes the seeds for such a dream have already been sown, with the U-17 team performing well in their European tour as part of their preparation for the upcoming U-17 FIFA World Cup that takes place in the country later this year.
"These under 17 boys will be the backbone of the Indian team. We saw them beat Syria. We beat an Italian team [but there was so much] negativity. It was about applauding the young children and making India proud. Instead, we go into negativity."
Patel also spoke about the role of women in strengthening the support for football in the country.
"Women have an important role to play. Everyone enjoys cricket as one of the most popular games. The day when football is followed by [an] enire family, it will be a success. I must tell you, if you put heart and soul [into it], women's team can make [the country proud] like the men's team" concluded Patel.