As rare as it gets, India take on mighty Brazil at the U17 World Cup

It doesn’t happen that often. But an Indian soccer team gets a rare opportunity to take on mighty Brazil at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.

Hosts India are no longer expecting a place in the knockout stages, but there is no doubt that the final game of the tournament will be a great learning experience as the South American powerhouse play on a different level in world football. Hosts India conceded three goals in the second half, suffered a humiliating 3-0 defeat by Morocco in the second game of Group A and were eliminated from the tournament on Friday. After back-to-back defeats to Morocco and USA, whom they defeated 8-0 in their opening game, India head coach Thomas Dennerby concluded the side were not technically up to par.

He wants his girls to be more secure on the ball and build up their attacks when they play against Brazil in their final game.
“Once we have the ball, we have to relax and start playing. We have to be confident and play a little bit more. Now we have nothing to lose. I hope the girls start playing freely,” Dennerby said on the eve of the game. Brazil’s senior women are ranked ninth in the latest FIFA rankings released earlier this week. Dennerby is keenly aware of Brazil’s reputation but at the same time believes his charges can prove themselves on the pitch.

“We have to focus very much on defending, but we also know that football is not just about defending. It would be nice for us to score points in this tournament,” he said. “Brazil are a good team. And we also know that Brazil are fighting for a place in the round of 16. So I think they will come out in full force,” added the coach. The Indian girls, Dennerby said, are ready to play for their honor against Brazil. “We will fight and try to score. It would be nice to come out of this tournament with a goal,” he said.

“We worked on the last decisive pass – the actions around the opponent’s penalty area. That’s also the hardest thing in football – to learn exactly how to deal with situations like that.” “The girls need to have a better understanding of decision-making – we also need to work a bit on the skills in those crucial moments, because in the end we will the results of all matches were decided in the two boxes,” said the Swedish coach.

India’s senior women’s team played against Brazil last November and lost 6-1. The coach believes that there are similarities in the style of play between Brazil’s seniors and juniors. “This team’s style of play is similar. Of course they’re not that skilled yet, but it’s normal when you’re 17. I would say it’s even more difficult to play against the youth team because in a senior team you have the best players in your country. “When you play the age group, you only have to pick players from a certain age group,” he said.

“Back in Brazil, they start playing football very early, which is a big advantage. But hopefully we can show them tomorrow that we have a good starting XI in India too,” joked the coach. Shilky Devi, who came on as a substitute in the senior team’s game against Brazil, said: “I know how strong Brazil are – their fitness and the way they attack. I was lucky enough to play against them for some time and it was a great learning experience for me.

“Their speed, their passing accuracy and the quick decisions they make were things that I observed throughout this game.”

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