After putting up a brave fight against USA in their Group A opener in the FIFA U-17 World Cup, the Indian U-17 national team turn eyes to face Colombia at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in the national capital on Monday.
Colombia lost 0-1 against Ghana in the opening match of Group A and although the South-Americans are level on points with India (both have zero points), the Indian colts are at the bottom (courtesy goal difference). A win for India would propel them to stay in contention for qualification for the next stage of the World Cup.
However, head coach Luis Norton de Matos isn’t willing to read much into the opposition and insists that the team will fight to the last minute and play with confidence giving Colombia a run for their money.
The Indian U-17s had played Colombia in a Four-Nation Tournament in Mexico City, Mexico where the young colts lost 3-0.
When asked if the team learned anything from that outing, Matos said, “Every match is a new match as every day is a new day and playing in a FIFA World Cup is a different challenge for both teams as compared to a friendly match. It will be a different setting altogether with different tactics and technicalities.”
“Colombia are tough opponents and they possess the necessary elements to hurt us. We have to be on our toes all throughout and have to focus on the task at hand. They (Colombia) will also give us a tough physical fight but we are ready for it.”
“We will play to win. There is no other alternative for us. Every match we play is to win and if we win against Colombia we will be creating history,” Matos stressed.
But how will be India’s performance against Colombia be different from their 0-3 loss against USA?
“Against USA, we had a nervy start and the players were shy and could not play their game against a team of the quality of USA. It was their first match ever in a FIFA World Cup and emotions can be a little hard to control when you play in front of 55,000 people for the very first time,” Matos pronounced.
Skipper Amarjit Singh further quipped, “At the same time we have huge respect for Colombia. They are one of the best teams of their region. But this is a matter of survival for us and we will do everything to be in contention of progression.”
Meanwhile, the boys are all geared up for the next challenge. “Winning and losing are part of football. What matters is how well we recover ourselves and learn from our losses and continue to move forward,” said star forward Komal Thatal.
“We will give it our very best as it is a do-or-die game for us if we have to remain in contention of progression.”
“We are all set for the Colombia game and we’ll give our everything. We won’t disappoint you, we won’t disappoint India,” insisted a determined Suresh Singh.
“We need to rectify our mistakes and move on,” he maintained. “Winning and losing are part and parcel of the game. We are all set for the next game and we’re rearing to give it a shot.”
Recollecting the atmosphere in the first match, Suresh echoed they were ‘not nervous but excited’ before stepping onto the pitch against USA in the first match.
Moreover, he stated that Colombia’s high pace can be blunted if the Matos-coached team stay at the right place at the right moment