AIFF hints at extension for Dennerby, eyes role for U-17 players in future senior team

File photo: The Gateway of India illuminated with lights during the Official Emblem Launch of the 2020 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, which has now been cancelled. Aparna Jayakumar - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Speaking to PTI on Wednesday, AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das indicated that head coach of the Indian U-17 Women's team, Thomas Dennerby, will be in charge of the Indian team for the 2022 edition following a contract extension.

On Tuesday, FIFA announced the cancellation of the 2020 U-17 Women's World Cup, scheduled to be hosted in India. Instead, India will now host the 2022 U-17 WWC.

"We believe Thomas is the right coach for the U-17 World Cup team. He has now gained experience of India and has a good track record and a very good rapport with the support staff. We will certainly be discussing with the AIFF Technical Committee to extend his contract," he said

Speaking about the future of the players involved in the current U17 team, Das said, "I believe that some players, who are 2005 born in this team, may qualify to play in the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in 2022. FIFA (has) not yet (given age cut-offs) but we believe it will be 2005-2007 born."

"All these players are part of overall plan to develop women's football. They will continue to be part of national camp. This team will be the core team to play in round one of AFC U-20 Women's Asian Cup qualifiers in March 2021 in view of their training and exposure so far," he said.

He said many of these players (who will miss the 2022 Women's U-17 World Cup) "will make it" to the senior national team for the AFC Asian Women's Cup in 2022, which the country is hosting.

More than half of the players who were called for national camp last year to prepare for the now-scrapped 2020 edition of the tournament will be over the age of 19 by 2022.

The AIFF also intends to form an Indian Arrows women's team (like the men's side that has been taking part in the I-League) to play in the Hero Indian Women's League.

Das also added that there will be no financial loss on the part of the AIFF due to cancellation and the national federation will discuss with FIFA about continuing with the existing Local Organising Committee until 2022. He stated that FIFA had taken the "best decision" to cancel the 2020 tournament as "we are not still not certain about 2021" as far as the pandemic is concerned.

"There is no point scheduling a world cup in an uncertain situation and playing in a stadium without spectators. Hopefully, a vaccine will be developed and be available by mid-2021 and life will be back to normal thereafter."

India will now be hosting both the FIFA Women's U-17 World Cup and the AFC Women's Asian Cup in 2022.