21 Nov 2023  |   05:32am IST

Fascinated with India but it’s shocking that a country with 1.4bn is not on the football world map: Wenger

Fascinated with India but it’s shocking that a country  with 1.4bn is not on the football world map: Wenger


PANJIM: Former Arsenal manager and Federation Internationale de Football Association’s (FIFA) Chief of Global Football Development, Arsene Wenger, has lauded Indian football as a "gold mine" with immense potential waiting to be explored. 

Wenger, currently in India, expressed his optimism about the country's football future. The official opening of the All India Football Federation (AIFF)-FIFA Academy in Bhubaneswar on Monday, marked a significant step in Indian football development.

Replying to what he thinks about Indian football he replied, “I would say I was always fascinated by India. My target is to improve football in the world. And it is impossible that a country like India, 1.4 billion, is not on the football world map.”

Wenger, known as the "Invincible" for his managerial achievements, emphasised the need for early talent development, citing Japan’s success story in football after a strategic development scheme. He expressed his motivation to contribute to India’s football growth and urged for the exploration and encouragement of the sport in the country.

Simultaneously, the Indian football team showcased a remarkable performance by defeating Kuwait in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The team, led by head coach Igor Stimac, aims to continue their success against reigning Asian Champions Qatar in the upcoming second-round match. The highly anticipated clash, hosted at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on November 21, will be broadcast on TV channels Sports 18, Sports18 1, and Sports18 3. Fans can also stream the games online through the JioCinema application and website.

India's solid defensive performance in the previous match against Kuwait, culminating in a 1-0 victory with Manvir Singh's late goal, showcased the team's potential. 

Qatar, on the other hand, secured an 8-1 victory against Afghanistan in their first second-round game, placing them ahead of India in Group A despite sharing the same points.

Wenger's positive outlook on Indian football aligns with efforts to bolster the sport's presence and development in the country. The AIFF-FIFA Academy opening and Wenger's involvement contribute to the broader initiative to harness India's football potential and elevate the nation's standing in the global football community.


Idhar Udhar