India went down 3-0 against USMNT in their Group A opener in the Under-17 World Cup on Friday evening at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Delhi.
Coach Luis Norton stated that his team conceded a daft goal in the first half by giving away a needless penalty when Jitendra Singh brought down Josh Sargent.
“First of all, it was fantastic ambience and congrats to Indian supporters because they pushed us and it was incredible. As I said, there is a big gap between us and the other teams. But I think we proved that we have organization. We conceded a stupid goal in the first half because of a penalty. We started the game a little shy. We weren’t good in the last pass because it was very important for us to get it right in transition. We do have difficulty in putting the last pass. Until the half-time, it was possible to keep the score respectable. USA started better of course,” said Norton.
“In the second half, we conceded a goal. It showed the experience of the team. The ball from the corner was ours and the USA player scored. Despite it being 2-0, we didn’t lose control. We had two possibilities from Komal (Thatal) and Anwar (Ali),” he added.
Norton believed that had Anwar scored in the second half when his shot came off the crossbar, USA would have been put under pressure in the final 15 minutes.
“It was important for us to score in that moment as it would have had a good effect. They could have given a fight in the final 15 minutes. In the same action, they scored and made it 3-0. It was a big punishment for us. Even though the US were superior to us, I would have liked to see what would have happened had we made it 2-1. Surely we would have gone for the draw in the final 15 minutes and the US would have been under pressure. I am not happy with the result. The players proved that with more experience, they can play against such teams,” he pointed.
The Portuguese coach was questioned if the team was defensive in their approach especially in the opening 20 minutes or so.
“You talk about being defensive, I say very organised. USA played with four forwards. The number 11 (Carleton) or Akinola would play, but they played both which was a strong force with an intention to score early. We know through their past that they want to get a result in the first 20 minutes. They had occasions too,” he mentioned.
He reiterated the fact that Indian players haven’t had competitive matches, something which the opposition has had in plenty. This led to the players being a little nervous and commit silly errors.
“You must remember that we do not have a culture of competition. This is the first time the boys are playing in front of a crowd of 40000 and with the quality of USA. This is not a friendly tournament. The 17-year-olds, they were a little shy. They lost a lot of passes which usually they would have successfully completed. Sometime later in the game, they had the possibility to create things. USA played at least seven games in the last two months in a competition. This is very hard and it gives you vital experience. This experience helps you control the emotions at this level.
“I don’t speak about individuals because the strength of the team is in the collective. There are some players that can be better but in general, I am satisfied with the collective work. They were very organized. Of course, I am not happy with the result. I never said it was going to be easy. We had a little percentage to perhaps win or draw a game. We fought for this little percentage. I thought we could have scored a goal we deserved with 15 minutes to go. USA would have played completely different had it been 2-1 and would be looking to keep the result. At 3-0, they had some control.”