Indian football’s governing body, the All India Football Federation (AIFF), in collaboration with the Sports Authority of India (SAI), has launched the Overseas Scouting Project targeting boys born in either 2000 or 2001 who currently hold solely Indian passports.
The idea is the brainchild of former India international Abhishek Yadav, who scored 17 goals in 62 appearances for India between 2002-11, now an AIFF director.
Trials will be held at Dubai’s Indian High School on Friday and Saturday for teenagers residing in the UAE and nearby countries.
Yadav, 35, who still plays for Mumbai FC in the Hero I-League in India, will help conduct the trials along with his scouting team and Indian U-17 coach Nicolai Adam, with a view to selecting some of them in the World Cup squad, with the tournament to be hosted by India in September and October.
Hailing the concept, AIFF president Praful Patel said it is “essential” that everyone gets a fair chance.
“The U-17 World Cup is a significant event in the Indian football calendar and to ensure that we field our best team, the AIFF has ventured out to Non-Resident Indians holding Indian passports to give kids a chance to represent India,” said Patel.
AIFF general secretary Kushal Das thanked the SAI, the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports and the Ministry of External Affairs for backing this project.
“This project wouldn’t have been possible without the wholehearted support of the Sports Ministry and SAI,” he said.
“I need to thank them for their support to ensure a foolproof scouting system as we zero down on the final squad for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup.”
Trials are open to any players who match the required criteria.
Morning sessions will run each day from 07:00-10:00 with evening sessions from 20:00-22:00.
For more information contact local project coordinator Mohammed Shanavas via email on [email protected] or phone 050 203 0745.
Coach Zlatko Dalic’s turnaround at Al Ain is complete after he agreed a contract extension with the new hierarchy.
Dalic, 49, had widely been expected to leave the Garden City under the previous regime after his deal expired last month. But his trophy-laden stay – which began in March 2014 – has now been prolonged, with an official announcement imminent about the length of the arrangement.
The Croatian has benefited from the boardroom cull which followed the release of a controversial BMW and Abu Dhabi Motors advert last week, which has since been pulled. A temporary committee is set to be revealed by His Highness Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Adviser, Deputy Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Vice-President of the Boss, who is a noted supporter of Dalic’s work.
Attention will now switch to assembling the squad to lift the 2016 AFC Champions League and regain the Arabian Gulf League title in 2016/17.
Extensive discussions have been under way about fresh additions during the last week, with dialogue continuing despite Dalic arriving in his native country for a break on Monday.
Al Akbari, 20, enjoyed a breakthrough 2015/16 at Al Nahyan Stadium in which he was named the Arabian Gulf League’s Young Player of the Year after he scored three times in 24 games on the way to the Clarets finishing third.
He also went on to make a fourth senior appearance for the Whites during Friday’s 3-1 loss to Jordan in the 2016 King’s Cup, played in Thailand.
These performances have raised hopes the forward can emulate the achievements of Al Ain superstar Abdulrahman, 2015 AFC Asian Player of the Year Khalil and 30-goal Al Jazira front man Mabkhout.
But citing the downturn for previous top rookie and fellow Claret Ahmed Rashid, Al Kamali challenged his prodigious colleague to keep on pushing for improvements.
“Mohamed Al Akbari has been selected as the best young player in the UAE. He must be thinking he can now become the best player in the UAE, like ‘Amoory’ (Abdulrahman) and Ali Mabkhout,” the 27-year-old defender said.
“Last year, Ahmed Rashid won the award. But this year he has not played with Al Wahda – it is the same situation for Al Akbari.
“Al Akbari is the future of the UAE and future of our club, also. He must be thinking to be better than Ali Mabkhout and Ahmed Khalil, not to just only think about going to the national team.”
Former captain Al Kamali had only played once for the UAE since the 2015 Asian Cup, prior to starting both defeats.
Despite struggling on his return, the ex-Lyon loanee hoped to be in place for the month-long training camp to Spain which begins in mid-July.
He said: “I was sad before, because I wasn’t with the team for the last two squads. But now, I get to be with the team again.
“It is hard to be in the national team at this moment. But I must do my best to be with the team.”