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‘There is a gold mine’: Legendary Arsene Wenger optimistic regarding Indian football’s future

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has termed Indian football a ‘gold mine’, waiting to be explored. Currently on a visit to India as FIFA’s chief of global football development, Wenger showed optimism for the future of football in India 

Wenger and his team are on a three-day visit with the ‘Invincible’ manager scheduled to inaugurate the AIFF-FIFA Academy in Bhubaneshwar, a city in the southern Indian state of Odisha on Tuesday (Nov 21).

“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 told media during a briefing.  

“So imagine the potential that is here if we work well. And my main target here is to convince people that there is a gold mine here but at the moment it is not completely explored, exploited and encouraged.”

Wenger explained that a well-oriented talent development scheme could change the face of the sport in the country just the way it did in Japan. 

“I was in Japan at the start of their football in 1995. In 1998, they were at the World Cup. So that means it is possible. You have to start early.”

During the visit, Wenger met AIFF President Kalyan Chaubey with the latter expressing his thanks to him. 

“We are so very honoured and privileged to host and welcome Mr. Wenger. His experience in football needs no introduction or explanation. I can just hope and pray that he continues to be involved with India’s Talent Development Scheme project.”

“We have been discussing this project for nearly three months now. Mr. Wenger’s visit to India and his experience and support from FIFA, I am sure will make this project a huge success.”

Wenger’s visit to India coincides with the men’s national team playing its second World Cup qualifiers’ match against Qatar at the Kalinga Stadium on Tuesday. India won the opening match against Kuwait in a convincing manner and would hope to emulate similar form against a much higher ranked team. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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