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India can qualify for 2022 football World Cup: Tendulkar

Last updated on: December 22, 2013 16:55 IST

India can qualify for 2022 football World Cup: Tendulkar

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Indian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar found himself in a slightly different territory as he pitched for football, saying that with the 2017 Under-17 World Cup coming to the country, qualifying for the 2022 senior main event is a realistic target.

"2022 sounds like a realistic target. We are hosting the 2017 World Cup, so it sounds realistic... I would like to believe that," Tendulkar said during an event of the Indian leg of the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour.

"We need to focus on the process. We cannot look to go directly to the 100th floor. We have got to start from the first floor and gradually climb up the building," he added.

"To participate in a big tournament like World Cup is something that does not happen overnight. It's a journey and for a journey to happen, there's a process. As I mentioned, the platform has to be provided to the young talent."


Image: Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and former Brazil captain Carlos Alberto Torres
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty

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Hard work and planning

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Tendulkar said lot of work needs to be done to bring up talent that match the best in the world.

"To achieve those, there's a lot of hard work and planning. You have got to have proper facilities and teach the young kids. So when all those things come together at the professional level, in the sense, what the champions teams are doing," he said.

"We need to attain that level. The system has to be put in place. Then only we can expect them to compete at that level. we can't obviously expect them to go out and thrash the rest of the world. As long those gradual steps are in order, that's when the results will follow."


Image: Sachin Tendulkar
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
Tags: Tendulkar

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Support to the young footballers

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This is not the first time Tendulkar was associated with football as the Mumbai maestro remembered visiting the Under 15 FIFA tournament and sitting with Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri.

"I had the privilege of Sunil Chhetri next to me. The way he looks at football is completely different from what I understand. To go out and support other sport is really important. I was there to show my support to the young footballers, and some of whom I believe will participate in the World Cup in 2022," he said.

"I was so impressed by the energy. It was so vibrant. They were so competitive. You have to respect your opposition in any sport and not take things for granted. It's important to play in the right spirit. They were all fighting so hard to lift the Trophy. With a billion people in India, talent is definitely there," Tendulkar pointed out.


Image: Sunil Chhetri
Photographs: Suhaib Salem/Reuters

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'I saw the Cup at the Lord's in Kapil Dev's hands'

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Tendulkar was in City of Joy for the first time after his retirement. "It's a special moment. I hope all the people from Kolkata will enjoy the Trophy and respect the rules and regulations."

Tendulkar said his life had come a full circle after winning the World Cup in 2011 and holding the World Cup Trophy is the ultimate moment for a sportsperson.

"1983 was an important year of my life. I saw the Cup at the Lord's in Kapil Dev's hands. It was a big moment. When I saw that I told myself I want to be there in that position one day.

"I had to chase my dream really hard. That's when the dream started. I had to wait for 22 years. But I was all prepared to do that with all the hard work and the sacrifices that came with it. I was ready to do all that as long as my dream was accomplished," he said.


Image: Kapil Dev
Photographs: Dave Cannon/Allsport

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'That victory lap was special'

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"I cannot forget that moment when we landed in Mumbai for the final. I drove quietly with my wife in my car and boarded the team bus. The discussion was that in two days' time, we play the World Cup finals. The atmosphere was just unreal," he added.

"That victory lap was special. The golden moment was when I held the trophy in my hands. That's what I played for. Then, I realised that my life has turned a full circle. The number of years, wherever I have travelled or done for India, this was on the top...It was the icing on the cake," he added.


Image: Sachin Tendulkar
Photographs: Hamish Blair/Getty Images
Tags: India , Mumbai

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