Indian Under-17 football team head coach Luis Norton de Matos was left ruing the lack of cutting edge in front of goal and big-match experience as his wards went down 3-0 against USA in their opening game at the Fifa Under-17 World Cup in New Delhi.
The Indian youngsters, who became the first team from the nation to play at any Fifa World Cup, gave a good account of themselves for the most part of the match but ultimately USA’s experience meant that the margin was three goals.
“As I said [before the match], there’s a big gap between our team and theirs,” de Matos elaborated. “We prove we had organization. We conceded a stupid goal in the first half an hour. We started the game a little bit shy in the last pass. Until half time, it was possible to keep the result. In the second half, we conceded another goal that had a connection to the experience of the team. We had the corner covered, but our player lacked experience.”
De Matos fielded a slightly defensive lineup, packing the side with midfielders and just one forward in Aniket Jadhav. He defended the decision saying that’s what the game called for.
“You [say] very defensive, I talk well organised. The US started with four forwards. They wanted the result in the first 20 minutes,” said de Matos.
The Portuguese also reflected on the missed chance to make it 2-1, and pointed out the difference in experience between the sides.
“The big problem we had was that we did not have the culture of competition. It was the first time for these players, playing in front of 40,000 fans, against a team like the US. Usually they have more success with easy passes which they didn’t complete today. If we get a goal at 2-0, then it’s 2-1. Anwar hit the post and then we could have come back. Instead it was 3-0.”
“2-1 would have urged them on to fight hard. The players proved that with some more experience, they could play more equally with teams of this league,” he added.
The Indian lads, through Komal Thattal and Anwar Ali went close to scoring, with the latter hitting the cross bar.
“Maybe the second game, they’ll be more confident,” he said. “I was unhappy that we couldn’t score a goal which we deserved. 3-0 is a punishment for the team. At 2-1, it would have been completely different. They would have tried to keep the result and maybe we could have had more chances.
Ghana, who defeated Colombia 1-0 in the earlier match, are India’s next opponents on Monday.