FIFA U-17 World Cup: After loss in opening match, hosts India face Colombia challenge

October 9, 2017

FIFA U-17 World Cup


NEW DELHI: ‘It’s a wonderful journey so far’ has been the common refrain, till India played their inaugural U-17 World Cup match in the Capital last Friday.

After the two-year long preparations and cotton-wooled treatment, the Under-17 boys are now feeling the heat under their collar.

USA put Suresh Wangjam and Aniket Jadhav under harsh scrutiny in front of some 40000 fellow citizens. Nothing could be hidden under the bright lights of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Even tougher examination awaits them on Monday as Colombia, having lost their first game, are waiting like hungry wolves for the lamb.

Not known for taking any prisoners, Colombia’s style is a smooth mix of brash physicality and sublime skills. They are hard to break down as Ghana had found out. Both are habitual entrants into the World Cup that matters and export players to the best clubs in the world.

Coach Orlando Restrepo, however, is not into star-gazing. “I know you all are looking for one player who will be the next Valderrama or Asprilla. But I am looking at them as one unit. We play as one unit and we win as one unit,” the coach said as his boys warmed up for training late on Sunday afternoon.

The importance of the next match is not lost on the coach as he talked about keeping concentration. “We had played India in Mexico (invitational tournament).We know how they play. The US team, the other evening, took the first session to adjust and assess India and turned on their style in the second. Their second goal came off a corner and their third from field play.”

Let there be no illusions for Luis Norton De Matos. They are exposed to the world now and there will be nowhere to hide.

India’s Portuguese guide claimed that even though the boys have lost three points, they are not lacking in confidence. “We would like to win. If we cannot win, the best is to get a draw.”

omal Thatal’s miss from close is what left the coach most frustrated. “Had he scored the goal, we could have fought even better.”

With the gap in quality staring in the face like defeat, De Matos knows Colombia will not make things any easy. “A few of their players are already playing in their first league,” he said. Having watched a recorded version of Colombia’s match against Ghana, De Matos has realised the biggest threat perception will be coming down the left. “They have a very good left-sided attack.”

But will Jitendra Singh and Anwar Ali keep their composure? Can Sanjeev Stalin and captain Kiyam Amrajit keep the pacy Leandro Campaz on a tight leash?

These questions keep popping up as the coach himself said, “To win is Colombia’s obligation. But we also too need to make an impression.”

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