The United States hammered host India 8-0 on the opening day of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium here on Tuesday.
On a day when India made its debut in the U-17 Women's World Cup, the United States completely dominated the game and secured the three points with a commanding win.
The tallest player in the Indian team is 169 cm tall – the height of seven of the starting eleven of the United States team. That became the key factor for the visitor.
Riley Jackson, the Golden Ball winner of the U-17 CONCACAF Championship, set up the opening two goals when two of her crosses were converted by Melina Rebimbas and Charlotte Kohler respectively.
After the second goal, gaps started emerging in the Indian defence and that was all for Natalia Astrain’s side to punish them further.
In the 26th minute, goalkeeper Anjali Munda’s pass to centre-back Purnima Kumari was intercepted by Onyeka Gamero, who then beat Anjali to make it 3-0.
Five minutes later, Riley’s cross – cleared by Shubhangi Singh – was received and brought down by Melina, who then shot with her second touch into the net.
The match – after the fourth goal – transgressed from a winning scoreline to a practice regime for the girls in white.
At the mid-way mark, the silent stadium stood gaping at a forgettable scoreline of 0-5.
Natalia decided to test bench strength when she replaced Riley Jackson with Mia Bhuta in midfield. And that, made the scoreline explode.
Mia assisted Emri Ella– six minutes into the second half – to make it 6-0, while Taylor Suarez scored from the spot to set the record for USA’s biggest win in the history of the tournament.
The cherry on top for the United States team was Mia’s 62nd-minute strike. The only US player of Indian descent in the 2022 World Cup, Mia buried the ball into the net with a left-footed curler from outside the box.
India, on the other hand, failed to land a single shot on target in the match.
The embarrassing loss will be a reality check for India and coach Thomas Dennerby, who had stressed that his team will be “defensively strong and difficult to score against.”
“I also know that India can play a bit better than this. My feeling from the side is that the girls got a bit nervous and could not really handle the pressure of playing in their first world cup,” said Thomas Dennerby.
“But the good thing is that there are two more games to go and we hope we can show everyone that India is much better than this and we can have a much better game against Morocco in two days,” he added.
For the United States, the victory will be a major impetus before its match against Brazil.
Coach Natalia, leading a side that has not gone past the knockout stages since 2008, will be relieved to see her plan finally fall into place, since taking charge of the team in November last year.
“The objective was to make a strong start to the tournament. We know that it is really important to send this message to everybody that we are here and we want to win the tournament…This is a big tournament, a long tournament and we need to continue doing our hard work,” said Natalia.
Match result: India 0 lost to USA 8 (Melina Rebimbas 9’, 31’, Charlotte Kohler 15’, Onyeka Gamero 26’, Thompson 39’, Ella Emri 51’, Taylor Suarez 59’ (Pen), Mia Bhuta 62’)