Legendary coach Arsene Wenger on Wednesday said the AIFF-FIFA academy in Bhubaneswar will help Indian football achieve its goals in the coming years.
The first-ever AIFF-FIFA Talent Academy was launched here on Tuesday by Odisha chief minister Naveen Pattnaik and Wenger. The first batch will comprise of 50 players from across the country.
FIFA's chief of Global Football Development Wenger once again underlined the importance of football education to spread the game in India, while adding that differences between quality of education is what separates the country from powerhouses in the sport.
"I ask you one question. You take three boys. One is born in Mumbai, for example. (The second) one is born in Sao Paulo and (the third) one born in Paris. (What) is, after one day, the difference between the three (in terms of) football?" Wenger asked the media here during a press conference.
"(What) is, after one year, a difference between the three? Now, if after 15 years, (there) is a difference on the quality of the players, personally, I would say yes, and if I ask you if after 20 years is a difference between the quality of the three players? I would say yes (again).
"And that is only down, in our opinion -- not because when you are (a) French you are better controlled -- because you got the education that you needed to develop." Wenger said only by imparting high quality of football education India will be able to bridge the gap between the world's most populated country and those who have a rich football culture.
"That's the only reason and that's what we analyse in the game. It is (about) the differences between the countries (that) is linked with the quality of education. And that's why we are here. And that's what the academy is (meant to) achieve -- wipe out that difference by the quality of education," he said.
The former Arsenal coach said "better identification of talent" is the need of the hour for India.
"You need better identification of talent inside the country. It starts with that," said Wenger.
"I am convinced that in India not everyone gets a chance. The second important part is we are convinced that you have to put the best with the best together. When you play against good players, that's a stimulation. We want to identify the talent, we want to, of course, put the best against the best," he said.
The 74-year-old said Qatar were the "deserving winners" in the 3-0 triumph over India in the World Cup qualifier match in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday, adding that the outcome "reinforced his desire to change things" in the country.
"The Indian team didn't perform well and that Qatar deserved to win and it reinforced my desire to change things in India. You know, because when you think you had the 11 best players, Qatar was the best team by a good distance comfortably, and that's what you want to change," Wenger said.
AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey said all concerned parties in Indian football, including the national body, the state associations, ISL, I-League and IWL clubs are now coming together to sail the boat in one direction.
"All have been working for the development of football for the last 50 years. (But) what we currently have been trying to do is asking all those to push in the same direction," he said.
Chaubey said FIFA's arrival in India won't create any magic overnight.
"FIFA cannot come and do magic. This is a very good time. India is the 5th largest economy in the world. Chandrayaan landed on the moon. We can take support of all the stakeholders and push," he said.