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U17 World Cup

U17 World Cup: Why Luis Norton took India Under-17 team to watch a Benfica game

5:38 AM GMT+8 02/10/2017
Luis Norton de Matos India U17 training
There was a reason as to why Luis Norton de Matos took the India Under-17 team to watch Benfica's game in Portugal...

As the country gears up to host its first ever FIFA tournament in the form of the U17 World Cup, the fans will also be looking eagerly at the performances of the India U17 team which will be embarking on its first ever campaign in the world's biggest youth tournament. 

Crores have been spent on the team in ensuring some of the best talents have been assembled in the 21-member squad which has been put under the tender care of Portuguese tactician Luis Norton de Matos. 

The 63-year-old, who took over in March this year, feels that his young wards are well conditioned for the tournament and does not want them to be overburdened by pressure and expectations.

Speaking exclusively to Goal, he said, "Until now, I am very cool (with our preparations). I want all the pressure to come to me and not the boys. It's very important that the players have the freedom to play without being blocked by the coach. My mission is to help the players with their emotions because they love football." 

Matos went on to state that he certainly believes the team can win at least a game in their group, where they will play USA, Ghana and Colombia.

"Even if we are not favourites or the possibilities are less for us, there is always a chance that we can win a game," he said. 

The former Benfica youth coach went on highlight Bengaluru FC's win over DPR Korean club 4.25 SC in the AFC Cup Inter-Zonal semifinals' first leg which they won 3-0 to point out the importance of seizing their chances in the upcoming World Cup. 

"I saw Bengaluru FC against the North Korean team (4.25 SC) and it was not the question of playing better but of scoring the goals in the right moments. The North Korean team started better and looked more experienced. However, Bengaluru scored in the right moments which took some pressure off their shoulders. This is football. I believe we need to fight for these moments," he assessed. 

Norton de Matos also talked about the uplifting results his charges have achieved in their recent exposure tours to Europe and Central America, including the win over the Italy team which consisted of youngsters from the second and third division clubs of Italy.

"In Italy, even if it was a second team of Italy, the Italian federation may have thought they would beat India. But the players were inspired to do something special and we won 2-0.

"Against a team like Macedonia, it was a very good test to our defensive organisation (0-0 draw).

"In Mexico, I was happy despite losing the first two games (against Colombia and Mexico) because we made mistakes which we can correct. Every game is a lesson for us. We need to concentrate on all the details and focus not to make any mistakes in the first game of the World Cup against USA.

"There are surprises in football. Even if we lose, we will give our maximum," he added. 

The India U17 team has largely been playing in near-empty grounds during their exposure tours and practice games but Norton de Matos reveals that he has been helping his players get an idea as to what to expect and how to handle the pressure and expectations when they play in front of big crowds during the World Cup. 

"When we were at the Benfica stadium with 60,000 people, the players shared how they felt to watch a game in Europe. As a coach, I also need to give the boys some indirect information of the ambience they are going to face. We invited some professional players to talk to them and the boys were very enthusiastic. This is also part of coaching," professed the coach. 

Certainly, Luis Norton de Matos is leaving no stone unturned in order ensure that his team is best prepared both on and off the field.