U17 World Cup: India eager to raise the bar against Ghana – Times of India

By on October 12, 2017

NEW DELHI: One just hopes India’s stupendous performance against powerhouse Colombia was not a flash in the pan. Bubbling with confidence, the U-17 World Cup hosts have one more assignment in hand, against Ghana in the final group stage game, scheduled at the Capital’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Thursday evening.

T Jeakson lived the dream of scoring India’s first goal in the World Cup Finals not even for a full minute. Emotional outburst disturbed the team’s shape at the back and Colombia’s Juan Penaloza made India suffer almost immediately. Two-time U-17 World Cup champions Ghana will pose far difficult questions for sure. It is not just a perception. Coach Luis Norton de Matos strongly believes so. “Tomorrow is the most difficult match of the group because the African players bring a lot of incredible skills with them and are very unpredictable. They are very fast and strong. We must try to bring out all out strongest points on the pitch,” the coach said ahead of training on Wednesday evening.

The pitch at Delhi University’s Rugby ground looked like a fantasy land with the lights coming on and the pre-winter haze descending slowly. Captain Amarjit Kiyam and ponytailed Anwar Ali, the new talk of the town, walked around the pitch segregated from the rest of the team who gathered at the centre of the field going through their warm-up drills.

“They are injured. And we have to wait till tomorrow to get a final say on their selection,” the coach said. Ali and Namit Deshpande kept the Colombian marauders at bay and won most of the aerial battles. Winning the air war is one of the standout features of this team. Against Ghana, too, their services will be severely put to test by the youngsters from the West African nation. And Jeakson, at the heart of India’s midfield, has an unenviable job of not letting the Africans run berserk, as is their wont.

The coach of Ghana, European clubs’ nursery for decades now, is facing a different problem. Scouts from across the world have flown in to pick out future stars who could be sold at a premium. Coach Samuel Fabin said: “The players know that they are being watched. It affects the team game and pretty often individuals forget their collective responsibility and resort to showboating. We have to be careful.”

Still their first aim on Thursday will be to keep the partisan crowd quiet. “We must find ways to keep the crowd silent. They make a lot of noise.” That’s a warning of sorts for de Matos’ boys.

Since Ghana’s qualification is also not certain, the pressure of reputation can play on the mind. Ghana, having won the U-17 World Cup in 1991 and 1995, will not like allow any blemish on their record. Winning their first game against Colombia and losing the second against USA, Ghana and Colombia are on same points. A win against India will ensure their passage to the next round.

With Ghana having a similar style of play as the Colombians, Indian coach De Matos had other insights to offer. “Ghana have four or five players who you call game-changers. Their two wing backs constantly overlap to support the attack. And like the South Americans, their wingers are always a threat. Their No. 18 (Mohammed Iddriss) is their key organiser. He is the heartbeat of the team.”

One can understand that de Matos has done his homework well. He even claimed that the “boys are ready to die on the pitch tomorrow.”

Source Article from https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/football/2017-u-17-world-cup/news/u17-world-cup-india-eager-to-raise-the-bar-against-ghana/articleshow/61045833.cms
U17 World Cup: India eager to raise the bar against Ghana – Times of India
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