England Under-17s boss Steve Cooper only spent a few days in India for the World Cup draw, but is already excited for October’s extravaganza.
The Young Lions sealed their spot at the bi-annual competition after reaching the U17 Euro Final earlier this summer.
And after attending last week’s draw in Mumbai, which saw England placed in a group with Mexico, Chile and Iraq, Cooper believes it’s going to be an exciting time for those involved.
- 6-28 October 2017
- England v Chile: Sunday 8 October
- Mexico v England: Wednesday 11 October
- England v Iraq: Saturday 14 October
“I managed to get a sample of what the World Cup experience is going to be like in India and I have to say, the main impression I got is that there’s a real big interest in it across the country,” he explained.
“There’s a real enthusiasm to do a good job of hosting it and it’s a big deal that it’s the first FIFA event to be held in India, which is a massive country.
“They’re really proud to be hosting the tournament and I’m sure they’re going to do a good job.
“It’s a tough group, but it’s an as-expected group really because if you look at all the groups, I don’t think there’s an absolute, really strong group.
“There’s never a weak group in a World Cup, but if you look at all of the groups, they’re pretty even and you’ve got to be a good team to get to the World Cup Finals.
“Ourselves and Chile both came runners-up in our qualification process and Iraq and Mexico won their qualification process, so it’s a really tough group.
“It’s going to be a great football experience for the players and the staff so we’re looking forward to it.”
Cooper’s squad will play all three of their initial group games at Kolkata’s 66,000 capacity Vivekanada Yuba Stadium, where the final will also be staged on 28 October.
And he saw first-hand on a subsequent trip to the region just how much passion there is, in what is said to be India’s main football city, at the prospect of hosting his team.
“We’ll be based in Kolkata, where it was ramped up even more and they’re really pleased that England are going to be based there,” he revealed.
“They’re certain the games will be sold-out, everybody that we spoke to said that Kolkata is a real football city and there will be a real buzz about it.
“We really felt that going there, just to have a look around. There’s a real excitement about us playing there and the World Cup in general.”