FIFA U-17 World Cup: Rain looms over Kochi
Kochi: With just a day to go for the kick-off for U17 World Cup, practically all the tickets have been sold out for the eight matches to be staged at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium here and the only dampener could be the the rains that have hit this coastal city of Kerala.
The venue will see six Group D matches, one match in the round of 16 and a quarterfinal. On the opening day, Brazil will take on Spain at 5 p.m. and the in the second match North Korea will face Niger at 8 p.m. All the tickets for the opening day have been sold out.
On October 10, Spain will take on Niger in the first encounter before North Korea faces Brazil in the second game of the day. On October 13, Guinea will battle Germany in the first tie followed by the Spain versus North Korea enounter. October 18 will see a round of 16 match while a quarterfinal is slated for October 22.
While all the 29,000 tickets have been sold out for Saturday's matches, what remains to be sold out is just a handful for the other two days and the pre-quarter and quarter-final and according to the organisers, those too will be sold out in the next few days, as already there is a mad rush for tickets, with people arriving at the venue.
One reason for the non-availability of tickets is even though the three-tier stadium has a capacity of over 50,000, it was initially decided to accommodate 41,000 and following the visit of the State Police chief Loknath Behra, early this week, it was further slashed to 29,000.
It was also finalised that the top tier of the stadium would be left vacant, as security was the prime concern for the organisers, that in case of an emergency, the entire stadium would be empty in around eight minutes.
"We are disappointed as we have been running from pillar to post to get tickets for the matches and there is not a single ticket that's available online for any of the days. We are also not able to get any information also here," said a group of youths hanging around the stadium on Friday.
While the FIFA team of officials is the last word when it comes to all aspects of the matches and the event management, the one thing that's beyond their reach could be the rains. Last night the stadium received a good amount of rain and with rains predicted for Friday and Saturday, it could play spoil sport for a free flowing match.
"The Brazil and Spain match could well be the best one and as always Keralite's have a special liking for Brazil," said former India international U. Sharaf Ali, a Kerala Police officer who is entrusted with the security of the Brazilian team.