Key points from India’s U-17 World Cup campaign so far
11th October 2017, New Delhi: The ongoing FIFA U-17 World Cup has really etched in the hearts of Indians. Even though India lost both their matches (against USA and Colombia), there is no doubt that the young Colts have impressed each and every spectator after displaying a gritty performance in both the matches. The match against Colombia turned out to be the historic match where India scored their first ever FIFA World Cup goal when Jeakson Singh buried his header in the back of the net, leaving the whole JLN Stadium on its feet.
Here are some of the key points from India’s two matches, so far.
1. A tale of 3 crucial opportunities
Indian Football Team displayed a scintillating performance and exceeded expectations of the majority of the fans when they played Colombia at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on 9th October. The energetic U17 side lost 2-1 at the hands of Los Cafeteros after striker Penaloza scored two second-half goals to break Indian hearts.
Things could have been pretty different had India converted these three crucial opportunities earlier in the match. Abhijit Sarkar, Rahul Kannoly, and Naorem saw their efforts either being saved or denied by the woodwork. Nonetheless, India finally showcased their potential on a very big stage.
2. Clash of Walls
Dheeraj Moirangthem vs Kevin Mier – India vs Colombia was all about spectacular saves from both the custodians at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Shots were flying in, so were both the Goalkeepers. Whereas on one end, Dheeraj kept India alive with his fabulous saves, on the other end, Colombia’s very own Kevin Mier made three spectacular saves to deny the host their first FIFA World Cup goal.
3. Mr. Dependent – Rahul Kannoly
With Boris Thangjam suspended for the clash against the USA, everyone expressed their concern whether Indian Football Team can rely on Right-back Rahul Kannoly. The number 17 didn’t disappoint as he displayed an excellent performance against the USA which was followed by yet another good performance against the Colombians where surprisingly he was fielded as the left winger. In the first-half itself, Rahul came agonizingly close to open the scoring but his powerful left-footed strike only manages to hit the woodwork.
4. “The 12th player” – Fans
Both the Indian Football Team matches (vs USA and Colombia) lured over 45000 fans at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. The best atmosphere was undoubtedly felt during the second match against Colombia which was insanely electrifying. Right from the beginning to the end, the whole stadium was on its feet to back our U17 side. Be it Blue Pilgrims, Minerva Academy Football & Cricket Club Fan Group, or the fans from all over the country.
History was made later in the match where these passionate bunch of fans witnessed the first-ever FIFA World Cup goal by India.
5. The Defensive Wall of India
In these two FIFA U-17 World Cup matches, one thing which the media, opponents coach and the fans highly acknowledge was Indian Football Team’s resolute defense. In the first game, USA’s Coach John Hackworth named India’s center-backs when he was asked to choose one player he would like to pick from the Indian team.
Following their game against Colombia, Orlando Restrepo also praised India’s defense as they made life hard for the Colombians. Kudos to Anwar Ali, Namit Deshpande, Jitendra Singh, Sanjeev Stalin and Boris Thangjam who defended for their lives so far in the World Cup campaign.
6. Shouldn’t we also praise Sanjeev Stalin?
In the process of Indian Football Team’s first ever FIFA World Cup goal, it was Sanjeev’s brilliantly taken corner which met Jeakson Singh’s looping header, making him the first player to register an assist for India in the World Cup.
7. The Creative Maestro – Ninthoinganba Meetei
In both the matches (vs USA and Ghana), Meetei produced a superb display to wreak havoc in opponent’s half. The number 7 utilized his pace and creativity to trick past his marker with an exquisite quick-feet.
8. The evolution from Nicolai Adams to Luis de Norton Matos
Nicolai Adams who coached the Indian Football Team U17 team for over one and a half year formed the foundation of this free-flowing attacking side. Matos took over Adams last year when he was relieved of his coaching duties.
Although Coach Matos will be remembered for improving the team since he took in-charge, a major credit should be given to Nicolai Adams for his excellent work and make this young Indian side mature.