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Hosts ready to move forward after opening defeat

  • India disappointed to lose FIFA U-17 World Cup opener
  • Goalkeeper Dheeraj Moirangthem says hosts learned a lot from USA defeat
  • Indians meet Colombia in their next Group A match on Monday

The occasion of Friday evening at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium was not lost on those who had longed to see India make its mark in a FIFA competition.

Their Group A opener against USA in the FIFA U-17 World Cup had plenty of build-up and excitement. It even included the presence of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

There was hope that the hosts might rise to the occasion and get their campaign off to a bright start. Unfortunately, their opponents USA had other ideas and showed their qualities in a 3-0 victory over the Indians, despite great support for the home team throughout the game.

“Basically, this was the toughest match, as we played in front of a huge crowd and this is the first time we’ve played [in a FIFA tournament game],” India goalkeeper Dheeraj Moirangthem told after Friday’s defeat. “3-0 is a disappointment for us, as we could have done much better. We learned a lot, so in the coming matches, we will look to rectify this and implement a better way, I think.”

With the first match done and dusted, India now turn their attentions to Monday’s contest against Colombia, with both sides looking to claim their first points in the group after the South Americans fell 1-0 to Ghana in their opening game. For Moirangthem, the next game provides an opportunity for India to make a strong showing.

“[The opening game] might have been a totally different platform because it was the first time playing in front of such huge crowds with the team, so the players might have been a little nervous in the beginning of the match,” he said. “We are used to it now, and hopefully, the players will be more confident and prepared and more ready to give everything.”

India’s Portuguese coach Luis Norton de Matos knows full well the impact this tournament will have on the development of Indian football.

“The one thing that is important for us is that every game, we’re going to learn,” Matos said. “If we [continue] to participate in this World Cup, I think the [Indian] government and the federation have a plan for the future, and this is the starting point. Now that they have the first experience [of a match], perhaps they start the next game more confidently because they know what to expect.”

Updated: October 7, 2017 — 9:47 am

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