Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik along with FIFA's chief of Global Football Development Arsene Wenger on Tuesday inaugurated the AIFF-FIFA Talent Academy at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.
A total of 50 under-14 football players, including 15 from Odisha, from across the country will be selected for training at the academy. The academy will be headed by a FIFA-appointed coach, officials said. "Football is a popular game in India, especially among the younger generation. There is a lot of talent in football in India and with proper coaching facilities, our team can perform very well in the future," Patnaik said.
"I am happy that we are able to partner with FIFA and AIFF to create such an academy. Odisha will support football projects and work in close collaboration with AIFF for football promotion in India," he said. The inauguration was held on the sidelines of the 2026 FIFA World Cup second-round qualifiers between India and Qatar. India suffered a 0-3 drubbing against dominant Asian champions Qatar.
State Sports Minister Tusharkanti Behera, All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Kalyan Chaubey and Chief Secretary PK Jena were among those present at the programme.
Later, India dished out a gritty display but suffered a 0-3 drubbing against dominant Asian champions Qatar in their second match of the 2026 FIFA World Cup second-round qualifiers here on Tuesday. Qatar would have won by a bigger margin had they not missed several chances while dominating throughout the 90 minutes at the Kalinga Stadium. (With PTI inputs)