Keeper Gurpreet hails overseas scouting programme for U-17 World Cup

Margao: Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, the first Indian footballer to play in an Europa League tie, has hailed the overseas scouting portal to locate more talent for the Indian team which will take part in the Under-17 FIFA World Cup next year.

"It is a really good initiative by the AIFF and the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs. I understand the intent is to find potential players who can represent India in the FIFA U-17 World Cup. I hope it works and I wish all the luck for the people initiating it," he told from Norway.

Gurpreet who captained India to a 4-1 win in the last friendly against Puerto Rico in Mumbai lauded former India striker Abhishek Yadav, who heads the scouting project.

"It's obviously a plus to have Abhishek bhai heading the initiative. He has played for India at the highest level and knows what kind of potential we require in order to compete with the best," he said.

Elaborating on his experience in Norway where there are a lot of Indian residents living all over, Gurpreet informed that he has seen and heard about many Indian boys playing in various academies.

"I have seen some Indian kids in Norway and I have heard that clubs like Vålerenga Fotball, Strømsgodset IF and some other second division clubs located near Oslo have one or maybe more Indian origin kids playing for them and training in their academies," he said.

"But I am not sure whether they hold a valid Indian Passport or not," he admitted. "The best part stays that if they possess a valid Indian passport, they can apply."