India just put in the worst performance by a host nation at a FIFA U-17 World Cup
The FIFA Under-17 World Cup has been around for 32 years now. The first chapter was held in 1985 in China where Nigeria beat West Germany 2-0 in the finals. Back then, the tournament was christened the FIFA Under-16 World Championship with a view of holding it every two years.
From the 1991 tournament in Italy onwards, it came to be known as the FIFA U-17 World Championship and starting with the 2007 edition in South Korea, it finally became the FIFA U-17 World Cup. That's what it is known as today.
The latest hosts are India, who are also making their debut, in any age-level FIFA tournament. This is the 17th edition of the tournament. 17 editions and 17 different hosts. Many of the 17 nations weren't awarded the rights to host the tournament based upon the quality of their nations football team.
FIFA has been vocal about taking the game to as many nations as possible and they've definitely been doing that with the U-17 tournament. India has turned in a performance worthy of the history books. The worst performance of all the 17 host nations going by points and goal difference.
Hosting a tournament is one thing and even though there have been some issues regarding empty seats and availability of water, India has done a relatively decent job. Playing in a FIFA tournament though, is a wholly different ball game, as the 'men in blue' have learnt harshly. India, as hosts, were automatically drawn in Group A with all their Group State matches taking place in the capital region of Delhi. Ghana, Columbia and United States were the other teams.
Much had been said about the team prior to the tournament playing. While no one was expecting any points from the boys, for most, a good defensive performance was a realistic outcome. Seeing the boys play in all there matches and the reality is far from that. India put in a performance not worthy of even an 'automatic' spot in the World Cup. There has been much left to be desired. While the crowd 'may have' turned up, the boys were not prepared for what was being thrown at them.
On the opening day of the U-17 World Cup, India hosted United States at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. India, a team that had little to no international exposure, was left reeling against a much faster and fitter American team. India did hit the crossbar and may have 'won a billion hearts' but it was far from a World Cup performance. In the end, India lost 0-3 to USA.
Next up was the mighty Columbians. Having dropped 'everyone's favourite' midfielder Komal Thatal, India was more composed, stringing together some very good passes and even scoring India's first ever goal in a FIFA tournament. Jeakson Singh Thaunaojam will go into the history books as the first ever goalscorer for India.
Finally came the biggest task till date. India faced a Ghanaian attack raring to get into the knockout rounds. India lost by a hefty four goals. Take All India Football Federation's (AIFF) view of the match and India put in a performance for the ages.
Turns out I was watching a different India-Ghana game yesterday. 'India fully dominant for the first 40 minutes', says AIFF press release. pic.twitter.com/SvGwdOsGg6— Bhargab Sarmah (@BhargabSarmah) October 13, 2017
The deluded AIFF aside, India was far from international standards. "In India’s last match of the tournament, the gulf in. quality between them and the rest had become painfully clear," writes Arka Bhattacharya for Scroll.in.
In the end, there is only one question that can be asked. Is this the worst performance ever put in by a host nation at a FIFA U-17 World Cup? As written above, the answer is yet. It's a close four-way fight at the top, but India is number 1.
Only two nations - India and UAE - have had zero points and a goal difference of -8. Two other countries - Canada and Trinidad & Tobago - have a goal difference of -7. The reason, India beat UAE is because UAE scored 2 goals during their time as hosts in the 2013 edition, whilst India only scored the one goal this time around.
Here's the worst performance of a host nation by points and goal difference split into two charts
1. The hosts that didn't progress past the group stage.
2. The hosts that made it out of the group stage.