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FIFA U-17 World Cup: Concentration lapse cost India a point, says coach de Matos

India coach Luis Norton De Matos believes a lapse in concentration cost his side a point against Colombia in FIFA U-17 World Cup’s Group A match. India equalised in the second half only to be pegged back 50 seconds later.

fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 10, 2017 08:17 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
FIFA U-17 World Cup,‪India national under-17 football team‬‬,Colombia national U-17 football team
India scored their first goal in FIFA U-17 World Cup against Colombia on Monday but were pegged back less than a minute later.(AP)

The Indian football team came agonisingly close to securing their first point in the FIFA U-17 World Cup, but a late Juan Penaloza goal helped Colombia win the Group A game on Monday.

The hosts showed great determination against their more fancied opponents and India’s Portuguese coach Luis Norton De Matos believes the performance was a testament to the team’s improvement.

“A few months ago, it was impossible for us to even imagine we can compete against such strong Latin American teams. But, we proved today we can play at this level and I am proud of the commitment the players showed on the pitch,” Matos told the post-match press conference.

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“Both Colombia and USA coaches said we were a difficult opponent for them and that is a testimony to how much we have improved as a team.”

It appeared India were headed for a draw when Jeakson Singh headed in off a corner, but the joy was short lived as Penaloza slammed the winner within a minute.

“The boys were too excited after scoring the goal and that lapse of concentration was why we conceded a second time. The boys are not accustomed to performing at such a big level. It’s a pity we let the game slip away,” de Matos said.

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The glaring exclusion from India’s starting XI were forwards Aniket Jadhav and Komal Thatal, who both had a good outing against USA.

“We had a plan before the game and we stuck to it,” de Matos said. “The defenders had a very good game and I believe these players are definitely the future of Indian football.”

Colombia coach Orlando Restrepo lauded India’s performance on Monday and said the hosts should be proud of their fighting spirit.

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“I would like to congratulate the Indian coach and his players for producing such a good performance. It was truly an intense encounter and although we were a bit better in the finishing moments, the hosts should be really proud of their showing,” Restrepo said.

Restrepo was all praise for India’s centre backs Anwar Ali and Namit Deshpande and said their performance forced him to opt for Plan B.

“It was a really balanced game and I believe the two Indian centre backs were really impressive. Thanks to them, we did not have a good start and were forced to change our strategy.”

First Published: Oct 09, 2017 23:42 IST