FIFA U-17: Teams wary of each other in a group of heavyweights

England, Chile, Mexico and Iraq, all teams possessing a “high level of excellence,” form Group F.

England’s Steven Cooper (left) also spoke to the England cricket team staff about the venue.   -  PTI

Two continental champions and as many runners-up makes the composition of Group F quite challenging.

This is certainly going to make the competition a veritable treat for the football aficionados of the city when the European runner-up England meets the South American runner-up Chile in the opener. As eastern India wakes up to its maiden football World Cup experience on Sunday, the second match of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup (Group F) double-header at the decked up Salt Lake Stadium will feature the North American champion Mexico against the Asian champion Iraq.

‘High level of excellence’

On the scale of skill and expertise, the four countries featured in this group present an intriguing mix of system, styles and culture. England, the progenitor of the sport, is making a statement about its robust game while the Chileans look to display their silken artistry that has taken Latin American football to the apex of glory. The Mexicans, flaunting two titles in its trophy cabinet, are one of the favourites to progress from the group while Iraq is brandishing its nationalism as the means to rise above the rest.

Team Analysis: Group F

England coach Steven Cooper preferred to call this a “group of death” considering the “high level of excellence” each of the four sides possesses. The English side packs a rich harvest from its highly successful club league system – the Premier League – with most of the players picked from the youth teams of the elite league. Names like Jadon Sancho, Rihan Brewster, Angel Gomes make up the England attack, giving the two-time UEFA U-17 champion enough reason to be confident about reaching the classification stage.

‘Multi-disciplinary approach’

The ‘Young Lions’ have done a fairly good homework collecting inputs about the venue from his compatriots like Steve Coppell, Ashley Westwood and Stephen Constantine coaching in Indian Super League and the Indian national side. “We have a taken a multi-disciplinary approach checking the physical, psychological and cultural aspects of the sides to prepare for the tournament,” Cooper said while, adding that he also spoke to the English cricket team staff, who toured the country early this year, informally about the venue.

For Chile, qualifying on merit to the final stage of the tournament after two decades (this leaves out the automatic qualification as a host in the last edition) is a big incentive for the side.

 

Coach Hernan Caputto felt his players gain motivation from the pride of wearing national colours, which would also help them overcome the shortcomings that the team may face in the tactical front. Caputto, who was accompanied by the young striker Antonio Diaz in the customary media conference, felt that the performance of the senior Chilean national side, which won two Copa America titles while reaching the final of Confederations Cup this year, will be providing the youngsters the inspiration.

The Chileans also have a good attack with players like Ingacio Mesias, Branco Provoste and Pedro Campos providing the edge.