Kolkata: Praful Patel on Thursday announced the setting up of six new academies across the country to prepare ‘more boys and girls for the future of Indian football’.

It was earlier thought that All India Football Federation would shut down its remaining Elite Academy in Goa, due to clubs fulfilling licensing requirements and setting up their own academies. This comes as a new development after the AIFF president, tournament director of the Local Organising Committee of the Fifa Under-17 World Cup Javier Ceppi and Fifa head of events Jamie Yarza spoke to the media at a press conference in Kolkata, two days ahead of the final.

The AIFF’s track record with academies is sketchy at best, with four initially being set up in Bengaluru, Goa, Kolkata (later shifted to Kalyani) and Mumbai. After the plan was conceived in 2012, the only one that stands as of 2017 is the one in Goa.

“The Indian team has also played well, executing what the coach had asked them to. They played at high speed, they were not afraid of facing some very good teams and all the Indians should be proud of their performance. They should continue to develop and get support,” Yarza said after the team crashed out with no points, one goal scored and nine conceded.

Patel wasn’t one to hold back on the hyperbole either, “Our boys have shown that they compete at the highest level. They played against very tough teams. But the results did not matter. The fighting spirit they showed and the way they organised themselves and executed what the coach wanted was exemplary.”

He also said that India has made a bid for the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup and he will present the country’s case when he addresses the Fifa Executive Council to be held in the city on Friday.

“This is going to be the first Fifa Council Meeting to be held outside Zurich during an Under-17 World Cup. It’s a great moment for Indian football. I have been invited to address the Fifa Council as a host country federation chief which itself is a rare honour. I will present my case for allotting the 2019 U-20 World Cup to India during my address today,” said Patel who is not a member of the FIFA Council.

Ceppi was asked about the proposed semi-final in Guwahati, and he replied that no amount of preparation could have saved the pitch. “There was incessant rain for 48 hours and the state government and the officials tried everything including getting a helicopter to dry the pitch. No pitch could have sustained that amount of rain.”

‘De Matos can stay on as coach if he wants’

India U-17 and U-19 football teams head coach Luis Norton de Matos can continue with his job if he wants, Patel said.

Portuguese de Matos was at the helm of affairs of the Indian side that played at the World Cup and he is currently with the national U-19 team that will take part in the AFC U-19 Championships qualifiers in Saudi Arabia next month.

“De Matos has done a great job for the Indian team. I have complimented him. His contract is till the end of this world Cup. He is with the U-19 team. We will talk about this (extension of contract). If he is ready, India has a big heart to accept him,” Patel said.

Patel said the sacking of Nicolai Adam as the India U-17 team coach early this year to be replaced by de Matos was a necessity under the circumstances.

“We had to change the coach. I am not saying that the past coach (Nicolai) was not up to mark. Both the coaches did a fine job. The day you find the players unhappy, there is no point continuing with the coach. You cannot have a disconnect with the coach and players. It would have been a disaster (to continue with Nicolai),” said the AIFF chief.

Asked about de Matos’ opinion that there was a big gap between the Indians and players of other countries, Patel said, “Indian football is very complex. It is a huge country and the issues are really complex and the AIFF alone cannot take Indian football forward. There is responsibility of state associations, efforts to be made at the district level etc. So, mere giving of suggestion will not do.”

(With PTI inputs)