FIFA U-17 WC: USA, England go to battle on equal footing

USA striker Tim Weah has found his touch at a crucial time, scoring a fantastic hat-trick against Paraguay. On the other hand, England coach Steve Cooper has lost his key player Jadon Sancho at a crucial time, who has gone back to Dortmund to play in the UEFA youth league!

USA football team attends a training session at Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Fatorda stadium, in Goa on Friday.   -  K. Murali Kumar

An exciting open game is in store when USA takes on England in the quarterfinals of the Under-17 World Cup here on Saturday.

Both sides are very attack-minded and have got tremendous potential going forward but they go about it in very different ways.

“We both play a similar style so it should be a really exciting and challenging game for both of us. It should be fun...We think they’re fantastic but we think we’re not bad either,” said USA coach John Hackworth.

The coach prefers a 4-4-2 with central midfielders positioned slightly deeper to dictate proceedings. Andrew Carleton has been the creative spark for USA, orchestrating the midfield and feeding the attackers with numerous chances.

They’re a good team with some good players. They’re athletic as well as being technically gifted. They play with a clear identity so we know we’re coming up against a tough opposition but you wouldn't expect any different in a quarterfinal of a World Cup. — Steve Cooper, England coach on his opponent

Striker Tim Weah, who was one of the beneficiaries, has found his touch at a crucial time, scoring a fantastic hat-trick against Paraguay. There was plenty to like about Weah’s performance: the way his pace stretched the Paraguay’s defence, the spaces he found in the final third and the strength and composure he showed for his goals.

England team attends a training session at Benaulim football ground on the eve of its quarterfinal clash against USA.   -  K. Murali Kumar

READ: My striker instincts took over, says Weah

The Stars and Stripes can make amends and soothe the fans’ anger for the senior team’s failure to qualify for the World Cup in Russia by winning the World Cup.

“There’s more a responsibility now,” said Hackworth. “That’s the best way to put it. We are at the moment the team that is playing for something really important. We are trying to give our country hope.”

On the other hand, England coach Steve Cooper has lost his key player Jadon Sancho at a crucial time, who has gone back to Dortmund to play in the UEFA youth league!


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The youngster, who scored three goals and assisted twice for England, was the stand-out player in the group stage.

Howard Wilkinson, the architect of English football’s modern youth development programme, has called for the system to be reviewed and overhauled, accusing the top clubs of failing in their “moral responsibility” to give young players opportunities.

In an interview to The Guardian recently, he has said: “There clearly isn’t the commitment to playing the youngsters. The fault just isn’t taking too many boys in; it’s clubs not really committing to giving them the opportunity.”

The reason for Sancho moving to Germany from Manchester City was to get first team opportunities. In his absence, England was pathetic in front of goal against Japan with goalkeeper Curtis Anderson coming to the rescue.

Meanwhile, Cooper is likely to stick to his 4-2-3-1 system. The mobility and interchange of the attacking trio behind the central striker is a key feature of its play.

The English defence, which has conceded only twice, should reprise its performances if it wishes to sail into uncharted waters.

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