While India has qualified for the event seven times in the past, the Colts' best ever performance came in the 2002 edition in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
In all the other six times, India were ousted in the first round itself, including the 2016 edition, which they hosted as a prelude to the 2017 U17 FIFA World Cup at home.
The sub-junior event was an Under 17 tournament back in 2002, the AFC switching back to the U16 format only in 2008 to accommodate the qualification process for the FIFA U17 World Cups the following years.
QUALIFICATION FOR 2002 AFC U17 CHAMPIONSHIP
37 teams participated in the qualifiers held earlier that year. India were placed in Group 4 along with fellow SAFF members Maldives and Bhutan. The latter decided to withdraw from the competition meaning India and Maldives had to play each other twice.
Both games were held in Chennai and in the first one, the hosts wiped out Maldives 10-0 on 5 May. Two days later, a 2-0 win confirmed India's participation in the 2002 AFC U17 Championship, a third time for the country after the 1990 (U16) and 1996 (U17) editions.
PREPARATION FOR THE EVENT
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) announced an exposure trip to the German Sports School in Hennef in the lead up to the mega event for the young boys. India U17 remained unbeaten in the five games they played in Germany.
|18 August||Sports School Hennef||1.FC Köln U17||3-3||Draw|
|19 August||Sports School Hennef||SC Viktoria Köln U-17||4-0||Won|
|24 August||Stadion Reinshagen, Remscheid||Remscheid||5-1||Won|
|24 August||Stadion Reinshagen, Remscheid||Mahal Khalsa FC (UK)||3-1||Won|
|24 August||Stadion Reinshagen, Remscheid||IFSC Germany||3-1||Won|
2002 AFC U17 CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS
India were placed in Group A alongside hosts UAE, Myanmar and China in the twelve-team tournament. The top two of each three groups would qualify for the quarter-finals along with the best two third-placed teams.
|GROUP A FINAL STANDINGS|
1st Match, 6 September: INDIA 1-4 CHINA
Mao Jianqing (3' and 23') scored on either side of a goal from Indian striker Malsawma (6'). Hao Junmin (44') added another before half-time as Jiang Chen (84') sealed the deal for China before the final whistle.
2nd Match, 9 September: INDIA 4-1 MYANMAR
Meghalaya-born Marlanki Suting (1') scored the fastest goal of the tournament, just 24 seconds after kick-off. Malsawma (33') made it 2-0 while goals from Raltalal Muankima (45') and Rocus Lamare (49') helped thump the eastern neighbours. Win Min Htut (70') got a consolation for Myanmar.
3rd Match, 12 September: INDIA 1-1 U.A.E.
Malsawma (8') got a third goal in as many matches but Saeed Mohammad Al Sayegh (31') equalised in the first half itself. Split points meant that both the host and India would progress to the quarter-finals given the latter emerged as the best third-placed team among the three groups, ahead of Qatar and Pakistan respectively.
QUARTER-FINAL, 16 September: REPUBLIC OF KOREA 3-1 INDIA
India resisted the eventual champions for the first half but the floodgates opened with Young Chol Shin (50') scoring in the second half. A brace by Woo Seok Choi (61',72') after the hour-mark confirmed India's return tickets early but not before Jerry Zirsanga (82') restored some pride. This was the first ever time India reached the knockout round of an AFC sub-junior tournament ever, and the last till date.
INDIA SQUAD FOR 2002 AFC U17 CHAMPIONSHIP
GOALKEEPERS: 1. Subrata Paul (Tata Football Academy), 16. Nasibul Haque (City AC, W.B.), 20. Subhashish Roy Chowdhury (Tata Football Academy);
DEFENDERS: 2. Ailad Kharnggap Ngapkyta (Langsning SC), 3. Habibur Rehman Mondal (Tata Football Academy) [Captain], 4. Rocus Lamare (Lajong SSC), 5. Debabrata Roy (Tata Football Academy), 12. Gouramangi Singh (Tata Football Academy), 15. Chitrasen Chandam Singh (Tata Football Academy), 18. Bhola Prasad (Tata Football Academy);
MIDFIELDERS: 6. Raltalal Muankima (PHE, Mizoram), 7. Lekini Suting (Mohun Bagan Juniors), 8. Francis Marbaniang (Langsning SC), 10. Jerry Zirsanga (Tata Football Academy), 14. John Michael Shadap (Lajong SSC), 17. Ashish Pandey (Mughals SC, Delhi), 19. Ravindra Thapliyal (Indian Air Force, Delhi);
FORWARDS: 9. Marlanki Suting (Mohun Bagan Juniors), 11. Malswama (Tata Football Academy), 13. Vanlal Rova (Tata Football Academy).
CHIEF COACH: Islam Akhmedov (Uzbekistan)
COACH: Prasanta Banerjee
ASSISTANT COACH: Herring Shangpliang.