Goa is on track to be one of the cities to host the Fifa U-17 World Cup in 2017. In preparation for Fifa’s Flagship Youth tourney, Goa is set to host the finals of the Asian Football Confederation U-16 tournament later this year.
This month, Goa will also host the AIFF Cup, which includes 5 countries. This will give the much needed International exposure to the Indian Junior team who are training hard for next year’s marquee tournament and have set up their base in Goa.
Goa is known for its love of football and the splendid peaceful hospitality of its people. Keeping the 3 upcoming tournaments in mind, ItsGoa asks if football, which is described by Pele as the beautiful game, can contribute to tourism in the sunny state over the long term.
Lusiofonia Games, Fed Cup, Expo Cup & Durand Cup
In 2014, Goa successfully hosted the 3rd Lusiofonia games, an Olympic style games, featuring Portuguese speaking nations. The highlight was the Goa-India team lifting the Gold medal in the football tournament after defeating a strong Mozambique team 3-2 in the final, egged on by a full 20,000 capacity home crowd.
In October 2014, Goa played host to the 127th edition of the Durand Cup which is the 3rd oldest tournament in the world, after The English and Scottish FA Cup’s. It was the first time that the prestigious tournament was moved outside of Delhi. The games were played at Raia.
During the exposition of the sacred relics of St Francis Xavier in 2014, the John Paul II Foundation for sports in Goa hosted the Unity Cup, which was well received. A competitive team representing Nigeria walked away with the trophy.
Three months later, Goa hosted the Federation Cup. Despite crowds being minuscule, the Goa Football Association did a wonderful job in organizing the Durand Cup and Federation Cup in a short span of each other.
Benfica, Hungarian club, Zambian national team
Delving deeper into the pages of Goan Football History, Goa hosted the popular Benfica team in 1960 for a collection of friendly matches. The next to cause a stir on these shores, was the Hungarian team Vasa Izo which played friendly matches In India in 1978. The teams only defeat came in Goa.
In 2011 when Goa was marking the anniversary of 50 years of Liberation, the state invited the Zambian national team, to play against a Goa XI and the Indian national team. The following year Zambia won the African Nations Cup.
What the future holds?
Along with the Fifa U-17 World Cup, Fifa also organizes events like the Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup, Fifa Futsal World Cup and even the Fifa Interactive World Cup.
The Goa Tourism department in association with the Goa Football Association could create and host their own football properties. This would act as a tourist attraction and also the local football teams could benefit by playing competitive foreign opponents.
If you are a football fanatic, don’t miss a kick! Get on down to the Tilak Maidan Stadium, in Vasco on the following dates to witness the action and cheer on the national team.
*AIFF Youth Cup Fixtures
May 15: Tanzania vs. USA (4pm)
India vs. Malaysia (8pm)
May 17: India vs. Tanzania (4pm)
Malaysia vs. Korea Republic (8pm)
May 19: Korea Republic vs. Tanzania (4pm)
USA vs. India (8pm)
May 21: USA vs. Korea Republic (4pm)
Tanzania vs. Malaysia (8pm)
May 23: Malaysia vs. USA (4pm)
Korea Republic vs. India (8pm)
May 25: Third Place play-off (4pm)
May 25: Grand Finale (8pm)
*Fixtures subject to change