India U-17 women’s football sides’s head coach Thomas Dennerby on Saturday thinks his wards have made improvements in fitness and the technical aspects since he took over.

The 60-year-old was appointed as head coach of the national team for the Fifa U-17 World Cup, where India are the hosts. The event has now been postponed by three months to February next year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“When I arrived in India, I found the girls having very good technical skills, good reading of the game and good touch of the ball. But if I compared them with the best in Europe and United States I could see they are bit less in fitness levels and pace of the game,” the Swede said.

“Even if you have a good technique and good passing and so on, you have to reduce the number of touches, have to play fast and speed up the game. That is the most important thing,” he added.

Dennerby left for Sweden last month after the players returned home and training stopped due to the pandemic. He led the Swedish side to a third-place finish in the 2011 Women’s World Cup and was the coach of Nigeria in the 2019 edition.

He added: “We increased the tempo of the game, fitness levels have also increased. Most importantly, the decision making is much quicker now. That is the most important thing in football.

“Even if you are very quick but if you have so many touches, if you have problems in receiving the ball, you can’t speed up the game.

“We have been trying to play with few touches, find spaces, make quick decisions, run fast and pass the ball with accuracy so that the pace of the game is increased, there is lot of things to do.”

Dennerby said playing against higher ranked sides will help his team as they will give less time to react and press his players hard.

Asked what will be first things he will do when he returns to India, he said, “First will be to test fitness level of players, this will help us to do a long term programme all the way down to World Cup starts.

“Then, maybe after a week, we will see if we need to work on some technical part which we need to improve. I don’t see any problem because there is time, we will do it.”