India becoming a venue for the U-17 FIFA World Cup is going to be a huge morale booster for the young and upcoming footballers, said Indian football legend IM Vijayan.
"The very fact that our country is staging this mega event in itself is going to be a morale booster for the young (footballers). With Kochi becoming one of the venues, this is a great blessing for our youth as this is a great experience," Vijayan told the media in Kochi.
Lauding KP Rahul, the only Keralite in the India U-17 World Cup squad, Vijayan said: "He is really talented and has been doing his best in all the opportunities that he has got."
Vijayan is one of the most decorated Indian footballers of recent times. The 48-year-old, who donned the Indian team jersey 79 times, scored 40 goals in his international career spanning 15 years.
He last played in 2004 for his home team Kerala Police.
Vijayan, who also represented Mohan Bagan, East Bengal, JCT Mills and Churchill Brothers, was the first footballer to be nominated as the Indian Player on three occasions.
Incidentally, both Vijayan and Rahul hail from Kerala's Thrissur district.
The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi, which is the venue for eight matches, is fully ready with the first two matches scheduled to take place on October 7. All the tickets for these two matches have been sold out.
Brazil will lock horns with Spain at 5 pm on the opening day.
DPR Korea take on Niger in the second match to be played at this stadium with a total capacity of 41,000. The match will begin at 8 pm.
Spain will play against Niger on October 10. DPR Korea will lock horns with Brazil at 8 pm on the same day.
The winners of the first two matches will play on October 13.