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FIFA U-17 World Cup: Penalties too are part of development, says England coach

England U-17 national football team coach Steve Cooper happy with equalling their best performance at FIFA U-17 World Cup after making it to the quarterfinals, beating Japan in penalty shootout

fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 18, 2017 09:48 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
FIFA U-17 World Cup,FIFA U-17 World Cup quarterfinals,England vs Japan
England U-17 national football team goalkeeper Curtis Anderson saves a Japanese player Hinata Kida’s penalty shot during the tiebreaker shootout of their FIFA U-17 World Cup pre-quarterfinal match in Kolkata on Tuesday. (PTI)

Even in the afterglow of victory and having equalled England’s best performance in the FIFA U-17 World Cup, Steve Cooper was realistic enough to admit that Japan were hard done by. Appropriate that because minutes earlier, Japan coach Yoshiro Moriyama had left the stage with applause from the Japanese media ringing in his ears. Cooper also hoped that going forward, England would show the kind of positivity they exuded on the pitch on Monday night.

“Penalties are the harshest way to decide a football match but our idea is to develop all parts of the players and penalty shootouts are a part of that development. It is something that will happen to these players and like with everything else, you have got to plan for it, there is no getting away from it,” said Cooper after the 5-3 win following a 0-0 draw after 90 minutes.

They will now play USA in the round of eight and Cooper said getting as far as they ever have is something to be proud of.

“We are aware that we haven’t made it to the semi-finals but this also shows that on the back of a good summer, England development teams are doing well,” said the England coach.

“We have two targets: to do as well as we can in each tournament that we play and to ensure these players’ long-term development,” he added. “Having equalled our best is something to be proud of but we would love to come back to Kolkata. The crowd here has been amazing; such attendances are such good experience for players in development tournaments.”

Cooper said among the positives he would take from this round of 16 tie is that England didn’t concede. “I am not surprised either by the fight or the football Japan played. Yes, Japan had a few shots from the edge of the penalty area but they didn’t have clear cut chances because of how we defended around the box. I am proud of how we stood up to Japan and loved the players’ body language on and off the pitch.”

‘Plan almost worked’

Moriyama borrowed a term from boxing to describe the game. “There was a lot of clinching. Little by little we started getting better after getting through the first half where our focus was to defend. Against a very powerful team, the plan almost worked but what we lacked was a goal. I am proud of the boys, they ran hard and I would like to tell them that after such an effort, there really shouldn’t be tears of disappointment,” he said.

Moriyama said his two-and-a-half year stint is now over and in that time Japan have been able to develop a style of their own. “But there is still a lot to improve in technique, accuracy, speed and intensity,” he said.

First Published: Oct 18, 2017 09:46 IST

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