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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

FIFA U-17 World Cup: England edge out New Zealand in practice match

England defeated New Zealand 3-2 in a practice match for the FIFA U-17 World Cup, in Mumbai on Sunday

fifa-u17-world-cup-2017 Updated: Oct 01, 2017 22:09 IST
Rajesh Pansare
Rajesh Pansare
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
England edged out New Zealand 3-2 in their practice match ahead of the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
England edged out New Zealand 3-2 in their practice match ahead of the FIFA U-17 World Cup.(Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)

It is too early to predict the stars of the FIFA U-17 World Cup but if England’s Callum Hudson-Odoi and Rhian Brewster display the same skills in the main tournament as they did in the practice game against New Zealand on Sunday, they will give their opponents a tough time. (FIFA U-17 WORLD CUP FULL COVERAGE)

Hudson-Odoi is an attacking midfielder, plays on the left, likes to cut back into the box and is good with both feet.

Brewster, who scored twice to give England a 3-2 win, can play not only down the centre as a traditional striker but also has the pace to operate from wide attacking positions.

With Jadon Sancho, the Player of the Tournament at the under-17 European Championship, yet to join the squad, pressure will be on Hudson-Odoi and Brewster to provide the firepower upfront. Both were England’s joint-second highest scorers at the U-17 Euro behind Sancho.

When quizzed about Sancho, England coach Steve Cooper said they are working closely with Borussia Dortmund to resolve the situation.

While Hudson-Odoi dominated the first half before being substituted, Brewster turned on the style when he came in after the break.

READ | England aim to cap glorious year at FIFA U-17 World Cup

Hudson-Odoi, who signed a new three-year deal with Chelsea in July this year, was the one to put England on the offensive after they had gone a goal down. Oliver Whyte’s wonder strike had given New Zealand the lead.

Sticking to the left wing, Hudson-Odoi peppered the New Zealand box with some delightful passes but there was no one present to put those away. England equalised through defender Marc Guehi soon after as New Zealand failed to clear from a corner.

When England kick off their group proceedings in Kolkata, Hudson-Odoi and Brewster will be the first names on their teamsheet.

In the second half, Brewster was all over New Zealand, allowing their defenders no time to catch their breath. For his first, he placed himself between New Zealand centre-back and timed his run to convert a beautiful pass from Manchester City’s Phil Foden. A few minutes later, he again rose above New Zealand defence to head home Nya Kirby’s cross.

The 17-year-old has risen up the ranks at Liverpool after switching from Chelsea a couple of years ago. He has also caught the attention of Reds’ manager Juergen Klopp.

READ | FIFA U-17 World Cup: Brazil calm about tough opening clash vs Spain

Had both started together, England would have finished with a much better scoreline than 3-2.

England are placed in Group F with South American runners-up Chile, CONCACAF champions Mexico and Asian champions Iraq.

England will have to fine-tune their finishing and positional play in the final third ahead of their tournament opener against Chile on October 8. While some great crosses were put in, no one was there to finish them and when someone did get there, they lacked precision.

While coach Cooper was happy with what was dished out, he would like his wingers to get more into the box. “We looked like a real threat in the first half and played good football. Callum (Hudson-Odi) and Emile (Smith Rowe) on both sides played well. They are both doing their job and they need to get into the box and create and score goals.”

He praised Brewster for the impact he had after coming on. “He scored two goals and that is what you want from your No 9. I liked a lot of performances today. We tried different positions today. I thought a lot of players created positive impacts,” he said.

First Published: Oct 01, 2017 21:19 IST