Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) is focused on fostering young players who are projected to be able to help the national team qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

According to PSSI Chairperson Erick Thohir, the association has established short- and long-term plans to maximize Indonesia's potential for qualifying for the championship.

"We should be bold ... The most important thing is that we already have the short-term and long-term plans," Thohir stated on Thursday.

The Indonesian national football team is targeted to pass all qualification stages for the 2026 World Cup, from the first qualification round in October 2023 to the final round in 2025, he remarked.

Thohir stressed that Indonesia still has the opportunity to qualify for the championship, as the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will have eight direct slots and one inter-confederation play-off slot for the 2026 World Cup.

The PSSI is currently prioritizing the formation of the U-17 national football team, which will compete in the FIFA U-17 World Cup, by strengthening the nationwide player selection process and synchronizing it with the Garuda Select program. The AFC U-23 Asian Cup is another current priority for PSSI.

Other football matches, such as the 2023 Asian Games and the U-23 AFC championship, will not be the current priority. They will be used as proving grounds for the national team.

Moreover, Indonesia will deploy the U-20 national team instead of the U-24 for the 2023 Asian Games, Thohir stated.

He added that apart from complying with the prevailing regulations, this step will benefit younger players in their preparation to enter the U-21 team and above.

PSSI is also committed to developing Indonesia's football players from a younger age, starting from their entry into the U-17 team or even from the U-14 team, he remarked.

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Translator: Aditya Ramadhan, Nabil Ihsan
Editor: Anton Santoso
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