Assembly Election Results 2017

FIFA U-17 World Cup: Up against US might but India promise to give it all

No Indian football team has ever played on such a big stage, and the Blue Cubs may take a while to get settled. That's actually the period the US may try to put the game beyond the hosts.

By Jaspreet Sahni | Updated: Oct 06, 2017, 12:03 PM IST
FIFA U-17 World Cup: Up against US might but India promise to give it all
Courtesy: Twitter

New Delhi: USA, the veterans of FIFA U-17 World Cup, will put India's nerves to test while the hosts will search little openings to make a mark, and possibly upset one of the Group A favourites, when the ball sets rolling at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Friday in India's maiden appearance at a FIFA World Cup.

Before stepping onto the tactical differences, a run through the credentials of captain Josh Sargent explains the experience US carry in their ranks.

The skipper is not only the leading player of his country's U-17 set-up but has already featured in the U-20 World Cup. The prodigy earned further recognition recently when German Bundesliga club Werder Bremen reached an agreement to sign a professional contract with Josh when he turns 18 next year.

USA have reaped the benefits at this level through their U-17 MNT Residency Program, which runs in Florida, and Josh was pretty vocal about how it helped them get in shape for this tournament in India.

"We have a Residency back in Florida, and the weather down there is very hot. That does a very good job of preparing us for conditions like these," the US skipper said.

He was also quick to point out the U-20 experience that he brings to the table.

"I do have experience at the U-20 level and I will bring that to this team to the best of my ability," he said.

Besides this, the US team had a week-long preparatory camp in Dubai en route New Delhi.

History apart, the Indian team - coached by Luis Norton de Matos and led by Manipur lad Amarjit Singh - will arrive on the pitch as a bundle of nerves.

No Indian football team has ever played on such a big stage, and the Blue Cubs may take a while to get settled. That's actually the period the US may try to put the game beyond the hosts.

"It's their first world cup, so they are going to be very excited," Josh recognised the fact.

US coach John Hackworth was then quick to add that the raucous crowd support for India will present a different challenge for his boys, who will face a packed house in India for the first time.

"I think playing the host nation in the opening game in front of a big crowd is in itself a huge challenge. Tomorrow is going to set the tone for all how things go in the rest of the matches," the coach said.

Talking about the technicalities, Hackworth made a mention of his defence, giving out a hint that there might be some holes that India can look to sneak through for shots at the the US goal.

"I think the key to tomorrow is if our defence plays well, and if that happens, our attack can be what we want it to be."

In terms of threat, the US coach put his finger on the name of India's No. 9, striker Aniket Jadhav.

Widely touted as the next big thing in India, Jadhav played in the FC Bayern Munich Youth Cup in 2014. Since then, he has climbed up the ranks at the national level to find a place in the U-17 World Cup squad.

"We have to contain India's No. 9 tomorrow, otherwise it's going to be a difficult game," Hackworth said.

It's no secret that India will do well to go past the group stage. On that note, their best chance of pulling off a draw or a surprise win could be against the US.

"We know all the strong points of United States and possibly a small weakness they can have, but obviously (they are) stronger than us. We are going to fight for this little possibility," India coach De Matos said.

And he ended his media address with a promise.

"As a coach I have prepared very well for this and the players know very well what to expect tomorrow when the game starts," the coach said.

"We are going to fight very hard, to make something different."