Calcutta: Coach Luis Norton de Matos refused to predict India's chances in the upcoming Fifa U-17 World Cup, saying that instead of thinking about the results, the country should take it as "a first step for the future".
India are drawn in a tough Group A along with former champions Ghana, Colombia and the United States, and De Matos dropped enough hints that his side may not reach the knock-out stage of the competition.
"It is difficult to build a strong team in seven months, but we have done what we can in this short time. There is a gap between India and the other teams, say from Europe and South America," De Matos said. "So, I don't think much about the results and chances, but I know my players will give their best. That is what they can do.
"I see this World Cup as India's step forward for the future. India can build on this experience," said the Portuguese tactician when asked about the home team's chances in the tournament.
"After eight to 10 years, I hope seven to eight players from the current U-17 team should be in the senior national team in the prime of their career. That will serve Indian football well," De Matos said.
He assured that the country's football fans will be proud of the performance of the Indian players. "There are three words to describe this fantastic moment of Indian football. First is faith and we should have faith in the team. Second is hope which connects dreams and any dream is possible to realise and lastly, love. we should love what we are doing," said the 63-year-old coach.
"I can assure football lovers of India that they will be proud of these boys." (PTI)