FIFA U-17 World Cup: Colombia look within for inspiration ahead of Ghana opener
The Colombia national football team have qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup for the first time in eight years, but are focusing on the present in order to achieve success.fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 05, 2017 22:17 IST
A day before Colombia will begin their FIFA U-17 World Cup campaign; the senior team will take on Paraguay in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier, needing only a draw to go through.
And whilst the players in India will keep an eye on the result, the focus will be on preparing for their opening Group A game against Ghana.
“We will check it (FIFA World Cup qualifier result). But we are not distracted by it,” said coach Orlando Restrepo, speaking to reporters in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium one day before the start of the tournament.
Given the recent form of the Colombia U-17 football team, they would do well not to be distracted by the fortunes of the senior team.
Despite Colombia carrying the tag of a South American heavyweight, there remains a feeling that they have underachieved at both junior and senior level.
At both senior and U-17 level, the Latin American nation has never lifted the World Cup. They finished fourth in the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2009 and then didn’t qualify for three consecutive editions of the tournament.
However, the focus of the current squad and management remains not on the past but on what the team can achieve in India this year.
“Colombia will move in the world as a team. We have all the plans in place to move forward and we are focusing ahead. We are looking forward to the chance of playing in this World Cup,” said Restrepo.
Their opponents Ghana are a strong counter-attacking side and this is something that is not lost on the manager. And whilst he refused to comment on how the opposition might play, he did give some insight as to what his sides’ game plan would be.
“I can’t comment on other teams’ style of play. But we will concentrate on keeping the ball and not giving it away in critical situations.”
Colombia’s main focus remains on ensuring their preparations are top notch. According to midfielder Thomas Gutierrez, even the prospect of air pollution and unfavourable weather isn’t likely to deter them.
”We are not focusing on factors like environment and pollution. We are focusing only on football.”