Asian Cup bid is different ball game, big footballing nations pose big challenge: Kushal Das

All India Football Federation general secretary Kushal Das feels it will very difficult for the country to get the hosting rights of the 2027 Asian Cup in the face of fierce competition from World Cup hosts Qatar, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

He called it a "different ball game" compared to the country's bids for the U-17 World Cups for men and women and the 2022 Women's Asian Cup.

"Although we have submitted our bid (to host), there are some big footballing nations who pose a big challenge. Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Uzbekistan have also expressed their interest.

"Given the fact that Qatar would host the FIFA World Cup in 2022, facilities and infrastructures would be top class. We'll see and look into our strategies," Das told AIFF TV.

Das has revealed that the idea of bidding for the men's U-17 World Cup was suggested by FIFA's technical director in 2013.

India successfully hosted the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup and is now preparing to organise the women's event next year. The country is also scheduled to hold the AFC Women's Asian Cup in 2022.

"I remember where it started. I was talking to the technical director of FIFA who had come to Bengaluru for a meeting on our youth development programme. It was there that he suggested we pitch for FIFA U-17 World Cup. It was sometime around 2013," Das said.

"Although we had apprehensions and doubts whether FIFA would be convinced to give us an event of that stature, he explained how highly India is regarded by FIFA.

"He elaborated that with all the youth development programmes happening, it was the perfect time for us to bid for a big event."

The overall attendance for the U-17 World Cup was 1,347,133 which surpassed China's record of 1,230,976 logged during the maiden edition of the tournament in 1985.

"In 2014 we received the confirmation from FIFA and started our work. It was a long process. It needed a lot of activities like coordinating with the government regarding guarantees, setting up a team," Das said.

"Eventually, it would add a lot of value to the youth programmes and would provide India with a chance to understand how FIFA events are hosted."

The championship in India shattered the record set during the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia (1,309,929 in 2011), making it the most-attended FIFA youth World Cup ever.

"Once we hosted the U-17 World Cup in 2017 we were confident to host more international events.

"Although the preparation for FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup has been dented because of the pandemic we are confident to pull this off successfully," Das said.

The U-17 Women's World Cup is slated to kick off on February 17, 2021 with the final scheduled for March 7.

Ahmedabad, Bhubaneswar, Guwahati, Kolkata and Navi Mumbai have been confirmed as the five host cities for the tournament, which will see 16 teams locking horns for the coveted trophy.
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