U17 World Cup: USMNT’s John Hackworth - Dheeraj Singh was exceptional for India

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The USA coach was asked to pick Indian players who impressed him the most in the Group A opener against India…

The USMNT U17s scored three past India in the Group A opener of the 2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi.

Head Coach John Hackworth admitted that his team weren’t at their best which allowed the opposition to create more chances in the second half.

“Plan to kill the game in the first 20 minutes? Not at all. That’s credit to India for making it hard to get behind them. They were a tough opponent. We didn’t play great. We can play much better. You have to break down an opponent and our execution wasn’t great on the final play", remarked Hackworth.

“We opted to play long diagonal balls. The idea was that the opposition had five defenders and nine players behind the ball. There was no space to play through. The long diagonal though didn’t get us that goal in the first 20 minutes.”

“I think both their centre-backs (Anwar Ali and Jitendra Singh) played well. None of the balls that we put into the box especially in the opening 20 minutes, we didn’t think they would win as many balls.

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“The goalkeeper (Dheeraj Singh) made several saves in the opening 20 minutes. He was exceptional on the night. If he wouldn’t have made those saves, the game would have opened up. One save was off Josh Sargent and he doesn’t miss many. In the second half, we made some tactical adjustment which allowed us more space to play. Durkin finished from a corner-kick and I must say that he doesn’t usually finish as well as he did today,” said coach Hackworth.

The 47-year-old heaped praise on the Indian team for their resilience and stressed that Luis Norton’s team made it difficult for them.

“Look before I give a rating to them, I thought they played really well. I would give them tons of credit. This was one of the best atmospheres for an Under-17 World Cup I have experienced. The Indians and FIFA must be proud for everything that tonight was.

“I think India exceeded our expectations. They were hard to break down. They were difficult to contain on the counter. I was impressed with their team,” he signed off.

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