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FIFA U-17 World Cup Draw: India hope for an auspicious start

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The 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup will be hosted in India. As debutants in any age group international soccer competition, they have been handed the toughest possible draw. They were drawn alongside former semi-finalists, Colombia, the United States and two-times champion, Ghana. At the ceremony in Mumbai last night, Indian head coach, Luis Norton de Matos oozed an air of confidence and reiterated that though India is the novice, they will qualify from the group.

There’s a latitudinal difference between the playing experiences of Indian teens and their foreign counterparts and de Matos has been trying to bridge that divide. He’s trying to schedule as many matches as possible for his side before the tournament begins properly in three months time. As optimistic as de Matos seem, he also has his reservations. He said “most of the players from the other teams at the World Cup have about 10 years of tournament experience. No matter how hard I try, I cannot replicate and make up for that match experience.”

India’s opening game, the first of the tournament will be against the United States. The Americans have played 15 of the previous 16 editions of the competition and India’s coach believes they can defeat them. Ghana has physically assertive players while Colombia, South American giants combine a flair of fanciful attacking football coupled with a lot of ball possessions. While the Indian participation in the tournament will be the cynosure of all eyes, being their first ever participation at an elite tourney, all attention will be shifted to the match between Spain and Brazil in Kochi.

The FIFA U-17 World Cup is the only soccer tournament Spain has never won. Group F is being termed as the “group of death” because of the pedigrees of the teams. Iraq and Mexico qualified for the tournament as champions of Asia and North America respectively, while England and Chile ended up as runners-up in their continental competitions.


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