FIFA U-17 World Cup: India show grit but lose to United States of America
India put up a gritty show in their FIFA U-17 World Cup debut but they ended up losing 3-0 to the United States of America in their opening encounter at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.Updated: Oct 06, 2017, 23:21 IST
Indian football team coach Luis Norton De Santos wanted fans at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to become the ‘12th man’ of his team, and they did not disappoint on Friday.
From the very first minute of their FIFA U-17 World Cup match against USA, the crowd was completely behind their side, and though the hosts were defeated 3-0, the supporters cheered every move and the youngsters received a standing ovation for their effort at the end of the match.
“It was a fantastic ambiance. I would like to thank the supporters for coming out in such numbers and we were truly overwhelmed by the support we received today,” Matos said after India’s first ever World Cup game.
The match was always going to be tough for India and the team selection gave a clear indication of their mindset. India left out Jeakson Singh and decided to go with five defensive players to counter USA’s impressive offensive force.
But the move was not that effective as the trio of Josh Sargent, Tim Weah and Ayo Akinola wreaked havoc on the Indian goal.
SARGENT LEADING LINE
The first chance of the game fell to Sargent, whose close range shot was blocked by Indian keeper Dheeraj Moirangthem. The visitors kept pressing and although India were able to maintain their composure, the breakthrough finally came in the 30th minute. Josh Sargent was tackled inside the penalty box by Jitender Singh and the striker made no mistake in converting the spot kick, sending Dheeraj the wrong way.
The goal acted as a wake-up call for the Indians and the hosts started attacking with more confidence. Komal Thatal was an absolute live wire on the left flank and his pacy moves provided a couple of chances for striker Aniket Jadhav, but his finishing was not up to the mark.
But the youngsters did not lose heart and just before half time, Aniket’s shot was yet again blocked by the USA defenders.
The second half saw India play with more players in the top half of the pitch and Ninthoinganba Meetei had a shot on target, which was blocked. However, the momentum did not last long and USA doubled their lead with Chris Durkin producing a brilliant finish from a corner.
MISS AND GOAL
The visitors assumed control of the game after that and despite India’s efforts, their tight defending did not allow Komal Thatal and Ninthoinganba Meetei to deliver any dangerous cross into the box.
India’s best chance came in the 84th minute when Anwar Ali’s shot hit the post, but USA capitalised on the counter-attack and Andrew Carleton put the exclamation point on the victory. The scoreline at the end looked one-sided, but USA coach John Hackworth was all praise for the Indian footballers, who according to him excelled on their FIFA tournament debut.
“I thought the Indian team played quite well and they really exceeded our expectations. They were quite impressive on the field and they will only improve with time,” Hackworth said.