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FIFA U-17 World Cup: Focus on impact players Dawood and Sancho to decide group

What happens in match between England and Iraq will decide who tops Group F of the FIFA U-17 World Cup. Winners of the group will play their round of 16 clash in Kolkata.

fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 13, 2017 23:29 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
FIFA U-17 World Cup,England U-17 national football team,Iraq U-17 national football team
England will look to make it three wins out of three when they take on Iraq in their last group match of the FIFA U-17 World Cup.(HT Photo)

Would Jadon Sancho and Mohammed Dawood provide a sideshow in Saturday’s group F tie here, one that could have a bearing on which team tops the standings and stays here for the round of 16 match on October 17?

While answering it, Steve Cooper deviated from his stress on the team, if only just. “Playing in a World Cup, the best part is you come up against best players of every opposition. Dawood has had a great start to the tournament, scored a lot of goals and has had a big impact...,” said the England coach here on Friday.

“But I am pleased with the way we have built from the back, how we have dominated the midfield and when we got the ball up on the pitch, we have really got into good areas. History shows the more you play as team the better it is.”

READ | FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017: Five lessons for Indian football team

Sancho and Dawood are different kind of players and have different roles. But with three goals in two games, they have been crucial to their team’s performance. With Phil Foden and Callum Hudson-Odoi, Sancho forms an attacking trio that had Chile and Mexico in a tizzy.

Dawood too has struck up a good understanding with his midfield, Mohammed Ridha in the main. He times his runs well and can go from zero to full speed in almost no time. And he can also take a mean free-kick.

“We know our performance has left everyone surprised. England are a tough team but if we win, we will stay here. But we are not thinking about the knockout rounds,” said Iraq goalie Ali Ibadi.

READ | FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017: Five positives for Indian football team

So far, Cooper has adhered to the maxim that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, by sticking to the same starting line-up against Chile and Mexico. And though, as he has pointed out earlier, England haven’t had cramps and were running till the end in both games, it would have to be seen whether Cooper tinkers with the team on Saturday barring having to replace suspended right-back Timothy Eyoma.

Iraq coach Qahtan Chitheer too has made only change to his starting line-ups, defender Maytham Jabbar being preferred to Habeeb Mohammed against Chile. Chitheer’s team switched from a long-ball game aimed at getting Dawood to run at Mexico to one that had a neat array of short passes that left Chile chasing shadows.

Dawood though is one booking away from missing a game along with Jabbar, Ridha and Moamel Kareem.

First Published: Oct 13, 2017 21:50 IST