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FIFA U-17 World Cup: India eye improved showing against Colombia

The Indian football team exceeded the nation’s expectations in their opening FIFA U-17 World Cup clash against United States of America despite losing 3-0 and they will be eyeing an improved show against Colombia, who lost their first game to Ghana.

fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 09, 2017 08:42 IST
Sayan Ghosh
Sayan Ghosh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
FIFA U-17 World Cup,India national football team,Football
India’s football team put up a gritty show against United States of America in their opening game of the FIFA U-17 World Cup and will be aiming for a good show against Colombia.(AIFF)

The opening game of the FIFA U-17 World Cup was a harsh reminder for the Indian football team. Amarjit Singh & Co truly exceeded expectations with their performances on the field but the gap in quality was too much for them as USA registered a 3-0 victory in front of a packed Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi. The disappointment was clear on their faces as the players exited the stadium after the match and although the footballers completely ignored the media waiting for them in the mixed zone, their sombre mood and stooped shoulders spoke a thousand words.

However, on Sunday, it was business as usual for the youngsters as they trained hard ahead of their second Group A encounter against Colombia. One of the things that let India down against USA was their passing and that was what coach Luis Norton De Matos concentrated on in the final practice session. The players were divided into groups of two and they were made to play short passes around a training dummy in order to improve their co-ordination on the field.

“We need to rectify our mistakes and move on. Winning and losing are part and parcel of the game. We are all set for the next game against Colombia and we’re raring to give it a shot,” midfielder Suresh Singh Wangjam told the media at the sidelines of their practice session.

The match against USA was momentous occasion for all the players and despite the loss, there were a lot of positives to be taken from the game. Goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem was quite impressive against a star-studded strike force and along with centre-back Anwar Ali, he was able to stop the trio of Josh Sargent, Ayo Akinola and Tim Weah from scoring more goals.

The star of the match for India was the young midfielder from Sikkim -- Komal Thatal. The 16-year old was an absolute livewire on the left flank and he was instrumental in his team’s offensive play. He dribbled past the defenders with absolute ease and on Monday, Thatal will have to play a bigger role in controlling possession for his team -- something that India struggled to do against USA.

Colombia, however, have no problems when it comes to short passing and maintaining possession of the ball. The Latin Americans were beaten by Ghana’s pace on the opening day of the tournament, but they still finish the game with 56% possession. The Colombians favoured the 4-2-3-1 formation against Ghana and considering India’s defensive tactics, they will be looking to switch to a more aggressive 4-3-3 with Leandro Campaz dictating play from the left flank.

The physical advantage that Colombia enjoys against the hosts will also be a major factor on Monday. The Colombian defenders were outplayed by Ghana on sheer pace and that is something that Indian forwards will not be able to replicate. As a result, the defenders will be able to stop them from crossing freely and unless fatigue plays a part, they will also dominate most of the aerial duels.

The two teams faced each other in August this year in the ‘Torreo 4 Naciones’ (tournament of 4 nations) with Colombia registering a 3-0 win over the hosts.

First Published: Oct 08, 2017 20:50 IST