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FIFA Under-17 Women's World Cup: India eye a quarterfinal berth, says coach Dennerby

India Under-17 football team

Bhubaneswar, October 7: Head coach Thomas Dennerby has full faith that India will give stronger nations like Brazil and USA, a run for their money in the upcoming FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, starting Tuesday.

India will begin their campaign against the mighty USA on October 11, followed by Morocco and Brazil on October 14 and October 17 respectively at the Kalinga Stadium here.

“Of course, we're up against absolute top teams, but if we have a really good day and the teams have a little bit weaker outing, there's always a chance for the team coming out like underdogs to win that game,” said the 63-year-old in a virtual press meet.

“If we can score an early goal against one of these teams, they may get a little bit nervous, get stressed and so on. There's always a chance and if we get a chance we'll take it.”

The top two teams from each group will make the cut for the quarters and if their respective senior FIFA rankings are of any indication, then USA are the world no 1. Brazil are in top-10, while Morocco (76) are the only nation below the 58-ranked India in the senior women's rankings.

“Of course, we want to be in the quarters, no doubt about that, and we are going to play with all our hearts. The way to do it is only by focusing on our performances.

“For me, it's not so much about results. We have to stick to our plan, stay calm to whatever the results (are). We are going to fight to take points from each and every opponent.

“But first of all, we are focusing on our performances and hopefully good performances will also lead to points,” said the Swede, who took charge of the Blue Tigress in November 2019 with the focus on the U-17 WWC.

Counting high on the home support at the Kalinga Stadium here, he said: “We will have the supporters on our side. Hopefully a good number of spectators in the stands will help the team to really fight and fill that gap.”

“But in total, I am going to look at performances that we can perform at the top level. If our top level is enough to beat the USA or Brazil, it's too early to say.”

Most importantly, it's about showing everyone who are looking at us with high expectations that we also have a really good team with a lot of young players who can perform at the highest level in the age group.”

On his assessment of the side, Dennerby said the team has a solid organisational display with a strong defensive unit in Astam Oraon, Kajal, Naketa, Purnima Kumari, Varshika and Shilky Devi Hemam.

In Nitu Linda, they have a deceptive mid-fielder who has a knack of finding good spaces and Dennerby said it's a team with a strong defence with quick attacks.

“I hope that you will see India with a really strong defence and well-organised team that it's hard to score on.

“Our style will have a little bit of quick attacks and counter attacks. We have a lot of speed up front and on the wings, so we have to utilise our best strengths.”

On Nitu, he said: “She has super quality in deception and is always very active, fighting for her team, ready to move.

“She also has a quality to find good spaces to receive balls to play crucial final passes. She's really doing well.”

They are fresh from their Spain trip where they suffered a 1-3 defeat against Sweden in the first match of the exposure tour and returned with a 17-1 win over WSS Barcelona Club.

“We're ready and excited. We performed very well against Sweden, it was a very equal game. We have two shots on the bar and made small mistakes against a quality side like Sweden.

The last game against the Academy team from Barcelona was not up to the mark as with their fitness level they couldn't handle the tempo of the game,” he signed off.

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Story first published: Friday, October 7, 2022, 17:10 [IST]
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