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Fifa U-17 World Cup : Debutants India set to take on formidable USA

Posted October 6th, 2017, 12:25 PM IST

Fifa U-17 World Cup : Debutants India set to take on formidable USA

New Delhi: Ever since India got automatic entry into the FIFA U-17 World Cup as hosts of the tournament, the focus has been as much on their on-field preparations as off it, both of which will face a first major test in their tournament opener against USA here on Friday.

India charted a two-year preparation plan, embarking on frequent foreign exposure trips, playing in Mexico, Russia and parts of Europe to gain experience.

The results in those matches were anything but encouraging, with 12 losses against two wins in the final 12 months in the build-up to the tournament.

India coach Norton De Matos said that the team has liitle chance to win against USA. "USA and for that matter Ghana and Colombia in our group are big sides, top level teams. We know we have a small percentage of winning against the US but you never know what will happen in a game of football," De Matos told reporters at match-eve press conference on Thursday.

"We will prepare well for this small percentage and try to make these small possibilities count. We want to fight as a team and with help from the 12th man (the home supporters) we hope we can compete against them," he added.

Captain Amarjit Singh said that he and his team-mates will give more than 100 per cent in their match against USA. "It is a World Cup match, we have been dreaming to represent the country in a World Cup. Nobody knows when this chance will come to an Indian player. We want to do something for the country and make India proud,".

USA are considered among the tougher teams in the fray, owing to their consistent performance in age-specific tournament over the years. Finishing fourth in the 1999 edition remains their best accomplishment.

Speaking about their first game against home side Head coach John Hackworth said, “We’ve played India once before, we were successful against them. But it wasn’t in the opening game of the World Cup, it wasn’t them hosting a World Cup. My feeling is that, and from the information I’ve heard, there’s going to be a very loud crowd. They (India) are incredibly athletic and hard-working team. We are going to have to beat the host country in the opening game and that is a difficult challenge.”

The present US side includes players like Werder Bremen-bound Josh Sargent, who is poised to sign for the Bundesliga club in the January transfer window. But the spotlight is on Timothy Weah, son of Liberian legend George Weah.

India U-17 squad:

Goalkeepers: Dheeraj Singh, Prabhsukhan Gill, Sunny Dhaliwal

Defenders: Boris Singh, Jitendra Singh, Anwar Ali, Sanjeev Stalin, Hendry Antonay, Namit Deshpande

Midfielders: Suresh Singh, Ninthoinganba Meetei, Amarjit Singh Kiyam (captain), Abhijit Sarkar, Komal Thatal, Lalengmawia, Jeakson Singh, Nongdamba Naorem, Rahul Kannoly Praveen, Md. Shahjahan

Forwards: Rahim Ali, Aniket Jadhav

USA U-17 Squad:

Goalkeepers: Alex Budnik, Carlos Joaquim Dos Santos, Justin Garces.

Defenders: Sergino Dest, Christopher Gloster, Jaylin Lindsey, James Sands, Tyler Shaver, Akil Watts. Midfielders: George Acosta, Taylor Booth, Christopher Durkin, Blaine Ferri, Chris Goslin, Indiana Vassilev.

Forwards: Ayo Akinola, Andrew Carleton, Jacobo Reyes, Bryan Reynolds, Joshua Sargent, Tim Weah.