U17 World Cup: How the AIFF changing the U15 I-League to U-16 helped spot Jeakson Singh

Jeakson Singh India U17
Maja Hitij - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images
The Indian FA changed the cut-off date for the age group competition in order to look at more players for the World Cup…

Jeakson Singh became the first Indian player to score in a FIFA World Cup when he headed home from a Sanjeev Stalin corner-kick against Colombia.

The 16-year-old midfielder has etched his name in history books after a fantastic performance in the middle of the park as he intercepted several passes from the opposition.

Jeakson wouldn’t have been part of the India’s 21-member World Cup squad had the All India Football Federation (AIFF) not changed the Under-15 I-League into an Under-16 competition for the last two editions.

“The idea was to look at more players who could make the cut for the World Cup squad. This suggestion came from the coach (Nicolai Adam) and Abhishek Yadav (COO, India U-17 team) as they wanted to scout for more players,” Kushal Das, the AIFF general secretary had told Goal back then.

“A player, born on or after 1st January 2000, is eligible to play in the U-16 Youth League 2016-17,” he added.

Minerva FC won the Under-16 league back-to-back as they triumphed over Royal Wahingdoh and Ozone FC.

Jeakson Singh Minerva Punjab Nike Premier Cup 2016

In the 2017 edition's final at Mumbai’s Cooperage Stadium, Jeakson scored from outside the box in what a gem of a strike. He and several of his teammates caught the attention of Abhishek Yadav, who decided to invite them for a match against the India U17 World Cup team.

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Jeakson further impressed Luis Norton de Matos in Minerva’s 1-0 win over the India Under-17 team.

“I am very thankful to Abhishek sir for giving me this chance to join the Indian side. I had high hopes but never thought that I would make it,” he told Goal earlier this month.

The AIFF certainly deserves credit in altering the rules to ensure talents like Jeakson, Mohammed Shahjahan, Anwar Ali and Nongdamba Naorem were spotted by Yadav and his scouts.