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FIFA U-17 World Cup: England seek to improve on past showings

England will look to use the side’s FIFA U-20 World Cup win in South Korea earlier this year as motivation to do better in the U-17 World Cup - a tournament where their previous track record isn’t the best.

fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Sep 30, 2017 16:14 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
FIFA U-17 World Cup,FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017,England football team
England will look to win the FIFA U-17 World Cup after they did the same in the U-20 World Cup held earlier this year. (Getty Images/FIFA)

Twice quarter-finalists in a competition they did not qualify from 1991 to 2005 --- having stayed away from the editions prior to that --- seems to fit the overall story of underachievement.

But things could change in 2017, the year England won their only other World Cup after 1966 when the U-20 team conquered all in South Korea.

That victory would serve as greater motivation and inspiration for the youngest of the Three Lions, said England under-17 coach Steve Cooper in Kolkata last July.

Twice European champions, England were agonisingly close to winning a third this year but lost to Spain in the tie-breaker after regulation time ended 2-2. Cooper’s boys had the lead twice and were ahead till the sixth minute of second-half stoppage time and then the bogey of tie-breakers hit them.

That was their first loss in 12 matches. Going into the Euro U-17 final, Spain coach Santi Denia had said: “England have a complete team and a lot quality that I haven’t seen for a while in them.”

KNOW THE COACH: Steve Cooper.

Having named the same 11 for all matches in the Euro U-17 finals till injury forced his hand in the final, Cooper knows his team. Not surprising that because the 37-year-old Welshman, who became UEFA Pro Licence holder when he was 27, took charge in 2014.

The son of former Premier League and international referee Keith Cooper, he has said he noticed a lot of positives in the Euros and – this is important --- he wasn’t the only one.

“We are working really hard to develop the best development programme for the young boys and qualifying for such events is important to that end,” he said in Kolkata. Everything about this World Cup including the weather will be an experience for these boys, he said.

PAST PERFORMANCE: 1985-89: Did not enter. 1991-2007: Did not qualify. Quarter-finals: 2007, 2011. Group stage: 2015.

PASSAGE TO INDIA: Qualified by virtue of being runners-up in the Euro U-17s.

Results in Euro U-17: Bt Norway 3-1; bt Ukraine 4-0; bt Netherlands 3-0. Quarter-final: Bt Republic of Ireland 1-0; Semi-final: Bt Turkey 2-1. Final: Lost to Spain 6 (2)- 3 (2) via tie-breaker.

POSSIBLE GAME-CHANGERS

Name: Jadon Sancho

Age: 17

Club: Borussia Dortmund.

Position: Forward

Why he is special: Four goals in the Euros justified why Dortmund reportedly paid 8 million pounds for him and gave him Ousmane Dembele’s No. 7 shirt.

Name: Callum Hudson-Odoi

Age: 16

Club: Chelsea.

Position: Midfielder

Why he is special: This attacking medio is also comfortable as a wide player. Scored in the final, the semi-final and against Holland in the group stages of the Euro U-17s. Chelsea signed a three-year deal with him despite interest from Benfica and Juventus.

Name: Joel Latibeaudiere

Age: 17

Club: Manchester City

Position: Centre-back

Why he is special: He is already a regular in the Manchester City U-18 with some City fans comparing him to Vincent Kompany in his ability to marshal the defence.

First Published: Sep 20, 2017 17:37 IST