Postponing FIFA U-17 Women's WC could be advantage for India, feels coach

Indian U-17 Women's team coach Thomas Dennerby will be focusing on improving the speed of the team play when it returns to training.

Thomas Dennerby, 60, was appointed as India's head coach in November last year.

Thomas Dennerby, 60, was appointed as India's head coach in November last year.   -  AFP

Thomas Dennerby, coach of the Indian U-17 Women’s team, feels the postponement of the FIFA U-17 World Cup to February-March next year offers his squad a chance to make up for time lost due to the coronavirus lockdown.

“I think the postponement of the World Cup could give us an extra advantage. All the girls have individual training programs and we follow their progress on a daily basis, so I think their fitness level will be very good when we return to the camp. The postponement also gives us more time to work with on their technical skills and this will help us make up for lost time,” the Swede said in an interaction on the All India Football Federation’s Facebook page.

He added that he has full confidence in his team’s ability to bounce back to full form when it is allowed to reconvene for the camp in Goa. “We will check their fitness levels when we start the camp and the results will help us form a new long term program until the World Cup starts. After a week or so we will see if there are technical aspects that we need to work on. I think it will be fine because we were in some sort of momentum when we left the camp in March. The team was doing well and I hope we can come back to that. The girls are so ambitious and passionate and I don’t think we will have any problems.”

One aspect that he’s keen on improving is the speed of the game, an aspect that he has been vocal about in the past. “When I first came to India I saw that the girls' technical skills were good and they had a good reading of the game. But, when I compare them with the best teams in Europe and the USA, I could see that there are a little slow. When it comes to fitness and pace of the game, even if you have good technique and passing, you need to reduce the number of touches and play faster to play with the best. That is the most important thing that I and my staff are trying to do. It is important to speed up the pace of the game,” he said.

READ: The decade in football: The birth of Indian Super League

He added, “When you pass, if you run fast and pass slow, you will lose the ball. You need to run fast and pass fast with good accuracy and the right pace – it all comes together. The most important is the decision making. And that is the reason why I want us to play higher-ranked teams because we will get lesser time to make decisions and will have to be quick and that will helps us learn.”

Dennerby felt the tri-nation tournament held in December last year Mumbai, which saw India play against Sweden and Thailand, was a great learning experience for his team. “We had chances to score in our games and it was a good lesson. It taught us that in the World Cup we will get only 2-3 chances and not 7-8 chances as we got here. We have to learn to ensure that we take the chance when it comes to the World Cup level.”

He added that he hoped the team will be able to go on exposure tours and play higher-ranked teams in the months leading to the World Cup, but would “fully respect it if the situation stopped that from happening."

The Swede also noted that he was eager for the junior team to interact with the senior women’s team. “I hope that when we resume the camp we can have some relationship with the senior team. From my point of view, that would be great and also extremely encouraging for the young girls to meet senior girls and have some sessions with them,” he said.

Support Sportstar


Dear Reader,

Support our journalism — where text and pictures intermingle so seamlessly — and help us scale up your experience as the world changes around us. Your contribution is vital to our brand of uninfluenced, boots-on-the-ground reportage that’s worth your while. Clickbait sensationalism is not for us, but editorial independence is — we owe it to you.

  Dugout videos