India’s under-17 women’s head coach Thomas Dennerby accepted the lack of ‘skilfulness’ in his players while analysing the team’s 0-3 loss to Morocco in the second group match of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.
“For India, the tournament is over,” the 63-year-old sighed after the match at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Friday.
“There is no chance to come to the knockout stage. Of course, it is always painful to leave the World Cup on the group stage. In one way, I am still proud of the girls because they were putting in the extra effort, working very hard and trying their very best.”
Elaborating about the gulf in quality, he said, “We can see that the fitness level is definitely not the problem, but we definitely need to be honest and say that, at the technical level, it is a little bit lower than the other teams.”
India was overwhelmed by Morocco in the second-half and 14 of the 21 players of the African side train in European academies while one plays in the United States of America (USA).
The Swede stressed the need for academy training of players beyond national camps.
“If we look at the girls playing for Morocco, they are all playing in really good academies, and they have been training for many years. We have had these five months to catch up with them, but we could not do it,” Dennerby said.
“We have been away from our family since March, trying to have a good performance, but we need to accept the fact that these five months were not enough to get ready to really challenge the best teams.”
Dennerby also talked about India’s struggles to convert attacking chances. Against Morocco, it managed just one shot on target, which brought a one-on-one save by Morocco’s goalkeeper Wissal Titah off Anita Kumari’s shot in the 83rd minute. Morocco had 10.
“Our offensive third has been the problem in all our practice games – to play the final pass with accuracy and the finishing and so on,” he said.
“The chances we had, we needed to take them. If we could have made it 1-2 when Anita was one-on-one with the goalkeeper, we could have made a comeback and Morocco could have become a bit nervous. Football is a sport of skilfulness, and we have a bit more to do.”
With two consecutive losses (first against the USA), India sits at the bottom of Group A, without any goal or point in its maiden women’s World Cup campaign at any age level.
The young Blue Tigresses will take on Brazil in its final game of the tournament on October 17 and it will “fight for honour”, the head coach said.
“I hope we can fight well, as we did against Morocco. Of course, it (Brazil) is a really tough team (to beat), we all know. But we will try to prepare our girls as much as we can so that we do not have a weak game in the end,” Dennerby added.