Getting to host AFC Asian Cup would be immense for India: Sunil Chhetri

FILE PHOTO: India player Sunil Chhetri greets the spectators after the team's victory against Kenya during the Hero Intercontinental football Cup. Photo: PTI

Getting the hosting rights of 2027 AFC Asian Cup would be "immense" for India, said Sunil Chhetri, one of the country's all-time football greats.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Wednesday announced its candidature to host the AFC Asian Cup 2027, creating a buzz.

Blue Tigers skipper Chhetri, who has represented India at two Asian Cups in 2011 and 2019, stated that hosting the mega-event will be the "best gift" for the fans of the game.

"There is no bigger honour and privilege than playing for your country and for our nation to host the AFC Asian Cup 2027 would be even bigger. I think it will be the best gift for the fans and for everyone in the country," Chhetri was quoted as saying by aiff.com.

The world's second highest goal scorer among active international players, Chhetri added, "We have already had the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017 in India and it was such a huge success and you can see the prodigies from that tournament do so well. We also have the upcoming FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in 2022 and I can't wait for it.

"To get the 2027 Asian Cup and get the best in Asia to come to our country to play would be immense. I wish the AIFF all the very best and I hope we get it."

National team goalkeeper Subrata Paul, who earned the nickname 'Spiderman' for his fine performance in the 2011 Asian Cup, stated that the country is ready to host the tournament and become a "global football destination".

"I consider myself very lucky to represent my country and play in big matches in front of our fans. But, nothing is bigger than hosting the Asian Cup.

"I feel, in the last few years, our football infrastructure and culture has developed a lot and we are ready to host the AFC Asian Cup. I have no doubt that our fans will make it memorable for everyone and make our nation a destination for global football," Paul said.

The country will host two major international tournaments in 2022 in the form of the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup and the AFC Women's Asian Cup.

According to Blue Tigers custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, hosting the Asian Cup will be a "massive" help for the sport in India.

Sandhu, who is the first Indian to play in the UEFA Europa League, said, "Our performances in the last few years have been steadily improving and hosting a big, big tournament like this will help us a lot.

"In 2017, we saw the FIFA U-17 World Cup being hosted in India and in 2022, the AFC Women's Asian Cup and FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup will be hosted as well. Hosting the AFC Asian Cup in 2027 will be a big boost for us in India and help the sport massively," he added.

Centre-back Sandesh Jhingan, who earlier this year became the 27th footballer to receive the Arjuna Award, said that having the AFC Asian Cup on home soil will be a dream come true for every Indian.

"I saw the support which we got for the AFC Asian Cup 2019 in UAE and it felt like home with all the fans coming to support us. I can only imagine the noise and the buzz if we play the AFC Asian Cup 2027 in Kolkata.

"It's a dream for every Indian and I hope it gets fulfilled. The entire football fraternity in India will enjoy world-class football in our own backyard. I can't wait for it," Jhingan said.


(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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