FIFA U-17 World Cup: USA heartbroken over senior team’s World Cup exit
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FIFA U-17 World Cup: USA heartbroken over senior team’s World Cup exit

Millions of US football fans will now turn their attention to the U-17 football team in hope after the seniors failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, says coach. The team take on Colombia in their last group match of FIFA U-17 World Cup.

fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 11, 2017 22:12 IST
FIFA U-17 World Cup,USA U-17 National team,USATRI
USA are already through to the round of 16 having beaten Ghana and hosts India in their two encounters in FIFA U-17 World Cup.(PTI)

In their bid to make their presence felt on an American sports calendar dominated by American football, basketball and baseball, football suffered a big setback on Wednesday when the United States football team failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986 after losing to Trinidad & Tobago.

Like everyone else in the fraternity, the US U-17 football team too has been left shaken by the blow. They have made a rousing start to their FIFA Under-17 World Cup campaign with two wins in the Group A, but the senior team’s debacle has been a dampener.

“For all of us, it is kind of unacceptable that we didn’t qualify. It is a tough day for American football and particularly tough for the fans. We expected to be in the World Cup,” US U-17 team coach John Hackworth said during his team’s practice session at the DY Patil Stadium on Wednesday.

Anxious late-night wait

Though it was late night in India on Tuesday when the US men’s game kicked-off against Trinidad & Tobago, the coach stayed up to catch the action.

“Absolutely, I watched with my heart and soul. I can’t even describe the feeling, (we are) heartbroken at a lot of levels. I know the players on a personal basis. Trust me, there is nobody who feels about this situation than those players and staff, but our fans have the right to feel some of the frustration they are probably feeling right now.

“And we don’t have any excuses. On a personal level, my heart is broken for those players, guys that I have very close working relations with,” an emotional Hackworth said.

US football in question

The elimination has again put a question mark over the health of football in the US. The onus will now be on the U-17 team to put up a strong performance to silence the doubters.

“It doesn’t change what we as a group were trying to achieve, (but) it puts a little bit of more focus on our boys. It’s tough for 17-year-old boys to understand what that means. They really don’t know what pressure is.

“I am sure there will be millions of fans back home who will now be turning their attention on this team because it is their hope, because it’s their way of saying we are not on a downward slope.

“That’s a reality. I hope despite their young age, they (U-17 boys) can grab a little bit of that. That’s a key, in whatever profession you are in, you have to know what pressure is, how to deal with it.”

First Published: Oct 11, 2017 22:12 IST