All India Football Federation (AIFF) Chief Praful Patel is of the opinion that even though the Indian Women’s football team gets less attention, they could go on to qualify for the FIFA World Cup even before the men’s team does.
Patel said that the AIFF is expecting the Women’s team to make it to the 2027 FIFA World Cup.
“Women team’s Fifa ranking is better than the men’s team, which is very good, when we had less attention to women’s football compared to men’s,” Patel said in a virtual interaction with the members of the U-17 Women’s World Cup team, in which Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju was present as well.
“When these kids grow, I feel the women’s team will be participating in the World Cup much before the men… and I’m very hopeful about 2027 edition (of FIFA World Cup). We will continue to give all the support and I am sure these players will very well represent India in future,” said Patel.
The Women’s team is currently at the 55th spot in the FIFA rankings out of the 159 teams whereas the men’s team is ranked 104 out of the 210 countries.
Patel’s sentiments were echoed by Rijiju as well, who feels that India will qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in the near future.
“Be it senior or junior, ranking of women’s team is higher than men’s. We have ability to qualify, even if we are not the host nation. I believe India will soon qualify in the Fifa Women’s World Cup. We feel that the men should also qualify,” Rijiju said.
Sandeep Pradhan, the Director General of the Sports Authority of India, also asked the AIFF to prepare a road map with a vision of qualifying for the 2027 World Cup.
“We request the AIFF to bring all the stake-holders together and come up with a concrete and actionable road-map for participation in the 2027 FIFA Women’s World Cup. That is the vision. That will make India a power-house in women’s football in 2027,” Pradhan said.
India was supposed to host the U17 Women’s World Cup this year but it had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, India has been given the right to host the 2022 edition of the tournament.
As informed by Patel, eight members from the current squad will be eligible to play in the 2022 edition of the U17 World Cup while the other players won’t meet the age limit criteria.
He encouraged the players, who will miss out on playing in the event, to keep the hard work going as plenty more opportunities will come their way.
“Our young girls should not lose hope, because you will get many opportunities to play for the country. There is qualification round one in March (next year) for Fifa U-20 Women’s World Cup 2022 and round 2 in August, you will get a chance for that and we are starting the camp in January,” informed Patel.
“India is also hosting Women’s Asian Cup in 2022 and by then some of you will be 18-19 years old and you can get a chance to play in the senior national team.”