Gurugram, September 30
India’s FIFA U-17 World Cup team coach Luis Norton de Matos today refused to predict his side’s chances in the upcoming tournament, saying that instead of thinking about the results the country should take it as “a first step for the future”.
India are drawn in a tough Group A along with former champions Ghana, Colombia and the United States of America, and de Matos dropped enough hints that his side may not reach the knockout stage of the competition.
“It is difficult to build a strong team in seven months but we have done what we can in this short time. There is a gap between India and the other teams, say from Europe and South America,” said de Matos. “So, I don’t think much about the results but I know my players will give their best. That is what they can do. I see this World Cup as a step forward for the future (for India). India can build on this experience,” said the Portuguese tactician when asked about the home team’s chances in the tournament.
De Matos took over as the head coach of India U-17 team in March after the sacking of Nicolai Adam.
Elaborating further, he said, “I was in Egypt in the 1997 edition. New Zealand were participating for the first time and they lost all their group matches, including a 0-13 thrashing by Spain. But since then they have done very well at this level. India should be thinking to do like that.”
Since 1997, New Zealand have taken part in six editions and have reached knockout stages twice.
“Building on this experience, I believe India can be at par with other countries at this level in eight to 10 years. And after eight to 10 years, I hope seven to eight players from the current Under-17 team should be in the senior national team in the prime of their career. That will serve Indian football well,” de Matos said. — PTI
Brazil star Vinicius Junior not coming
Brazil will not have the services of their star player Vinicius Junior during the FIFA U-17 World Cup as the youngster has been barred by his club Flamengo from travelling to India following their defeat in the final of the Copa do Brasil. According to a report published by Globo Esporte, Vinicius had an agreement with Flamengo that he can travel to India only if the team wins the Cup in Brazil, which did not happen.
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