The Indian women’s U-17 team will look to start the World Cup with an upset as it takes on the United States of America in its opening fixture.
Despite qualifying as the host, India has been in preparation for the World Cup throughout the year, travelling to Italy (6th Female Torneo) in June, to Norway (Open Nordic Tournament) in July and to Spain most recently last month.
Thomas Dennerby – its head coach – has been a prominent name in women’s football after he guided Sweden to third place in the Women’s World Cup in 2011 and Nigeria to the Round of 16 in 2019.
“Our preparations have been really good. We started in late February this year and up to now, we have almost 270 sessions, that include running, football, and technical meetings. Of course, the girls have developed a lot,” he said before the match.
“One thing that everybody will see tomorrow is that it will be hard to score against us and if we can utilise our own chances, there’s a good chance to come out with points from the USA.
Definitely, the USA will come into the game as favourites, but the game starts tomorrow nil-nil. If we only focus on our performance, we have a chance and if we get a chance we will take it,” he added.
India is grouped alongside the USA, Brazil and Morocco and will play all of its group-stage matches at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.
“If India can have a successful tournament if we can take this team to the quarterfinals… for me personally, it will be as big as taking Sweden to the World Cup bronze medal 2011,” Dennerby said.
Before the match, he also said that if his team can make it to the quarterfinals, it will be – for him personally – a success equivalent to the World Cup bronze medal with Sweden in 2011.
Choosing attacking options for the young Tigresses will be a cakewalk, as Lynda Kom Serto – the standout performer of the team at the age-group tournaments and most recently at the U18 SAFF Championship – will be the head of the attack.
However, the team will rue the absence of midfielder Martina Thokchom – who crossed the age threshold by one year – and instead, is expected to start with a midfield double pivot of Babina Devi and Shilky Devi Hemam.
The United States, on the other hand, will look to forget its nightmare in the tournament last time around, when it was knocked out of the World Cup after finishing at the bottom of its group.
The fresh batch of players, under former Barcelona head coach Natalia Astrain, has looked extremely aggressive up the pitch and clinical in set-pieces.
“We are here to change our history (in the World Cup),” she told the press. “Every team in the group poses different challenges. We respect them, but we will give our best here.”
At the U-17 CONCACAF Championship – which also served as the qualifying tournament for the World Cup – USA scored 58 goals in seven matches and the only goal it conceded, was in the final against Mexico.
India vs United States of America: When and Where to watch
When and where does the India vs USA match kick-off?
Where can you watch the India vs USA match?
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