India went down 3-0 to USMNT in their Group A opener of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup on Friday.
Henry Menezes, who is part of the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) Technical Committee, heaped praise on coach Luis Norton de Matos for ensuring that the team putting in a fighting display.
“The scoreline could have been 2-1 in our favour. I think the substitutions made the difference especially in attack with Rahim Ali and Nongdamba Naorem coming in. The goalkeeper’s positional sense was good,” said Menezes.
With the most of the boys in the Indian team coming from the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) Academy and Scouting Project, Menezes pointed that clubs need to play an important role in future for the development of players.
“Right now, it’s the Indian team which is providing players to the clubs. It must be the other way around. The clubs need to have a scouting system, junior team and look to work on the development on a day-to-day basis,” he mentioned.
At least six districts in Maharashtra run age group competitions with over 120 teams participating. Menezes stated that it’s only a handful of states who take age group competitions seriously.
“I think we must make it mandatory that if you do not conduct age group competitions in your state, you wouldn’t be allowed to play in the nationals. It’s similar to how the clubs who do not have a junior teams aren’t allowed to participate in the I-League as per the licensing criterion.”