Team India played their first level game at the age category showpiece at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar. But, things did not go as planned, at least on the field as the home team was hammered by the USA women’s team 0-8.
After the game, there was news of the consignment carrying the boots supposed to be used by the young squad had arrived late and that some players wore their new boots right out of the box, having been not offered the luxury of time to break in their new cleats.
The general secretary of AIFF, Dr Shaji Prabhakaran issued an apology to the u17 girls’ team following the delayed delivery of the boots.
“Prabhakaran had asked the girls if there were any issues regarding preparations. On hearing some of them had not received boots, he apologised to the team”, a source said.
Boots sized 5 and under were handed to the players on the day of the match as the consignment carrying the particular batch was sent by road and was delayed.
Prabhakaran, who was present at the game in Kalinga Stadium along with the likes of high-level delegates such as Fatma Samoura, FIFA’s secretary general, was infuriated at the debacle and asked for a report on the same.
The request for boots was made during the fourth week of September when AIFF representatives met with the team.
“Immediately, president Kalyan Chaubey and Prabhakaran okayed the request with around 20 days to go for the World Cup. Prabhakaran used his contacts at the international sportswear giants and asked for the boots to be delivered,” a source was quoted as saying.
“The person responsible would be held accountable for this serious lapse”, Prabhakaran said.
The result against the USA can’t be entirely pinned on the failure to deliver the shoes on time, but no doubt that it made things that much more difficult for the Indian girls against a well-drilled American team.
In their second game of the tournament, India will take on Morocco on the 14th of October at the same venue as the opening match.