PROFILE | BY SWAPNANEEL PARASAR Follow @Swapyo on Twitter
India is all set to host the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, scheduled to kick off on 6th October. 24 countries from six confederations will be competing for one of the biggest honours in youth football with the matches being held in six cities across the country.
In this segment, we take a look at Chile's U-17 team and guide you through their journey to the world cup, highlighting their achievements, key players, coach and much more.
Confederation: CONMEBOL (South America)
Nicknames: La Rojita
Coach: Hernán Caputto
PAST RECORDS AND LAURELS
Just as the senior Chilean national team are going through a once-a-generation golden patch of success in the last half a decade, the juniors are too taking on the mantle, having qualified for the U-17 showpiece for the first time on merit since twenty years.
In what will be Chile's fourth appearance in the history of FIFA Under 17 World Cups, it was way back in 1993, incidentally their maiden bow when they grabbed a third-placed finish in Japan. After that, a group stage exit in Egypt 1997 was followed by eighteen years in oblivion.
Hosting rights in 2015 meant a direct entry, otherwise, their treacherous outing in the 2015 South American U-17 Championships saw little takers for Chile U-17 to be exciting in any way possible.
However, crowd support at home spurred La Rojita to manage a win and a draw, securing passage into the Round of 16, where they were handsomely beaten by heavyweights Mexico.
Since then, the focus on age-group football in the country has manifested multiple folds and the result was evident in the latest South American qualifying tournament - Chile finished runners-up to Brazil.
ROAD TO U-17 WORLD CUP
Fears of disappearing from the world stage loomed large after the home U-17 World Cup. Afterall, it had been two decades since Chile qualified for a U-17 World Cup on merit.
Home support proved to be a great additive yet again when Hernan Caputto led the young guns through to the final stage of the 2017 South American U-17 Championship, after a quarter of a century, falling only to Brazil in the race for gold.
On their way, disciplined performances saw them keep two clean sheets - two wins and two draws meant that they emerged as champions of their group, thus creating nationwide ripples.
Another couple of wins at the start of the final stage and the unbeaten streak was ended by a 0-2 loss at the hands of Paraguay. La Rojita recovered quickly to dump Ecuador 1-0 but the final day had Brazil on the match programme, ahead by just a point and the trophy was in plain sight.
The last game of the tournament at Rancagua, fans witnessed one of the more classier displays of teenage football by Brazil. A 5-0 loss sent Chilean hearts in pain and the players in tears but nonetheless, a runners-up medal and the ticket to India was sealed - a feat none of their predecessors could achieve in the last 25 years.
PREPARATIONS AHEAD OF THE MEGA-EVENT
Two months after the CONMEBOL qualifying at home got over, Caputto called in 25 players in the commune of Macul and started his preparations in late May. Chile was one of the participants of the Torneo de 4 Naciones in Mexico where India too was a part in early August.
Beginning with a 3-3 draw with Colombia, Mexico defeated Chile 3-1 in a match which will be replayed in the World Cup finals on 14 October in Guwahati. India too managed to hold Chile 1-1.
A few days later, twin defeats to the USA U-17 squad (3-0 and 1-0) in Portland meant Caputto's boys remained winless in five games of their tour to North America.
The squad then travelled to Limoges, France. Participating in yet another quadrangular series, 1-0 and 2-0 wins against Belgium and Poland respectively set up a summit clash with fellow world-cuppers and hosts France.
A 0-0 draw was enough to crown them champions, providing Caputto's side with immense confidence before they touch down in Kolkata to play their first match against England on 8 October.
Hernan Caputto, a former goalkeeper who played most of his club career in Chile. Born in Argentina, Caputto obtained his Chilean citizenship in 2005.
Caputto was first given the Chilean U-15 job in 2013 but quit after two years. It was only in March 2016 that he returned to the national set-up, helming the U-17 side.
The 42-year-old prefers the 4-3-3 formation with his teams and is known to be an astute tactician, keen on keeping his defense tidy and tight.
Teammate, Pedro Campos aims to be one of the top wingers for his country. In the squad since the South American Championship, Campos can play on both flanks and prove to be a menace with his lightning fast pace and trickery.