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FIFA U-17 World Cup: Indian players ready to hit the ground running under De Matos

The India U-17 football team, which is coached by Luis Norton de Matos, will start their FIFA U-17 World Cup campaign against USA on October 6 in New Delhi.

football Updated: Jul 20, 2017 21:52 IST
Bhargab Sarmah
Bhargab Sarmah
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
FIFA U-17 World Cup,India U-17 football team,Luis Norton de Matos
India U-17 football team coach Luis Norton de Matos with footballers Shubham Sarangi (R) and Rahul BK (L).(AIFF)

It’s been a little over four months since Nicolai Adam was replaced by Portuguese tactician Luis Norton de Matos as head coach of the India U-17 football team. Adam was removed from his position for allegedly abusing his players.

While the move courted controversy at the time, with the U-17 World Cup just a few months away, the players have given their backing to new boss De Matos.

Speaking here on Thursday, U-17 international Shubham Sarangi was asked the difference between De Matos and Adam.

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“Every coach has a different philosophy. He (De Matos) is not just a good coach,” Sarangi said, adding, “He is a good coach and human being.”

“He teaches us what we have to do off the field, and on the field. We are pumped up and ready to give our best for the country at the World Cup,” he stated.

While the Adam episode left a bad taste, the team has had time to adjust to De Matos’ tactics, with the Portuguese coach leading the side on an exposure trip to Europe.

U-17 starlet Rahul KP, who hails from Kerala, said the tour to Europe helped the side bond.

Asked about the highlight of the tour, he was quick to point to the 2-2 against a Benfica U-17 side.

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“We couldn’t win but we felt so good. (Even) the players of Benfica were surprised with the way we played,” he said.

“We were down 0-2 and to come back in the last 15 minutes and make it 2-2 was phenomenal” Sarangi quipped in.

No clarity on De Matos’ future

While duo spoke highly of the coach, De Matos hinted there is no clarity on his role once the U-17 World Cup culminates in October.

“This is the first time I have come to India. I think I have become a part of the football family here. It’s been a really nice experience. I would like to be part of the (future) plan, and for sure, next season AIFF has plans about U-13, U-15 competitions. It’s important to have these competitions, and an important step for Indian football,” he stated.

“It’s not dependant on me, but if you ask me, I have liked my job, the work I have done here. If (they feel) I am important (enough) to contribute makes it easy,” he said on his future in India.

Hosts India face USA, Colombia and Ghana in their three group games, in New Delhi, at the main tournament in October.

First Published: Jul 20, 2017 18:50 IST