Fans join Matos’ wards to create football history (Sidebar)

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New Delhi, Oct 6 (IANS) The wishes of Indian football officials and players came true as thousands of football lovers thronged the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium here to witness the world’s most popular sport. With the hosts playing against the United States in their FIFA Under-17 World Cup campaign opener, people gathered here to support India despite knowing the limited capabilities of the country’s youngsters.

In many conferences chief coach Luis Norton de Matos and players urged the Indian public to come and support them. He even counted the crowd in his playing team when the coach said that they wanted to play with the 12 players instead of 11.

Although FIFA has put restrictions on many things, but people somehow managed to match the decibel level without the Vuvuzela.

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In 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Vuvuzela became famous. It is a plastic horn, about 65 centimetres (two feet) long, which produces a loud monotone note. But in this U-17 World Cup, the world governing body has put the restriction on it and people in the stadium missed that instrument.

“Ya, I really miss that (Vuvuzela), it was a perfect instrument for this tournament. But we are sure that we will beat Vuvuzela with our vocal cords this time,” Neeraj Shandilya, who came from Dwarka along with his three friends, told IANS.

The first match was played between South American giants Colombia and African powerhouse Ghana. The level of the game can be imagined through crowd in the first game.

Not only youngsters, men and women, even in their 60s, were enjoying the game. Some of them called it as a “date”.

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When asked about the environment to an elder couple — Dhrub Mitra and Laxmi Mitra, they said: “We are here to support India. (Dhrub said) My wife has not seen any match in the stadium. So you can say we are also having a date time. Now don’t disturb us (Laughs).”

There were some other Indian spectators especially from the north-east India who were here to support other country.

“I am here to see the first game, their senior national teams are playing for the qualification spot (at the 2018 FIFA World Cup) so its not possible to see them. That is why I came here early to witness the match and be a part of history when India will play,” Bobin Singh, who was wearing Ghana jersey, said.

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Many girls with different get-ups along with their friends, came to the stadium and chanted “India, India”. When questioned about the team they are supporting, Noida-based Pooja Sharma said: “I have no idea about the game, I am here to be on the TV only. But yes, I am supporting India.”

Debutants India have been placed in Group A along side Colombia, two-time winners Ghana and the US.

(Gaurav Sharma can be contacted at [email protected])



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