FIFA U-17 World Cup: India face Ghana in a must win encounter
Kolkata: The Indian U-17 boys chase an improbable dream when they take on a tactically and physically superior Ghana in their final match of Group A at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Delhi on Thursday. But coach De Matos reinstated that his boys are ‘ready to die’ for a win against Ghana.
India are virtually out of the tournament but still has a mathematical chance of qualifying if they beat Ghana by a big goal margin and at the same time USA beat Colombia by a bigger margin. They can also qualify as a third placed nation if they manage to beat Ghana and other results of other groups go their way.
They may have lost 3-0 to USA and 2-1 to Colombia but the Indian colts earned accolades and praise of the fans for their gritty display, nerves of steel and their never due attitude in both the matches. “The boys want to finish the competition on a high,” Matos said. “I think people are proud of the way the boys are playing and I am proud as a coach. They want to give not only a 100 percent but 200 percent tomorrow and we are ready to die for the project (of Indian football),” said De Matos.
With Ghana strong on the wings and with a typically tough Eric Ayiah in the attack De Matos is expected to field the same line-up that played against Colombia. Captain Amarjit and defender Anwar Ali however remains doubtful and as the Portuguese coach said, “Except these two players, all others are ready to play. It has been a progression – we did better against Colombia than against USA. We want to do better tomorrow. What will be the script we will know tomorrow.”
“Football is not a game; it is always a lesson,” said Sunil Chhetri and India may have well learnt their lesson when they face Ghana in a must win encounter, that can send them to the knockout rounds.
USA vs Colombia
Colombia face a hard task at hand when they take on USA in a must win encounter at the DY Patil stadium in Navi Mumbai on Thursday. USA has not lost a match in the tournament so far and it will take an extraordinary performance from Los Cafeteros to reverse their fortunes.
Jaminton Campaz who had been a bright spark for the team will once again be their main threat while defender Juan Penaloza who scored the two goals against India will look to continue his good form in the tournament.
Meanwhile USA who has already qualified for the knock-out rounds will play to maintain their unbeaten run in the tournament. “I am sure there will be millions of fans back home who will now be turning their attention on this team because it is their hope, because it’s their way of saying we are not on a downward slope,” said US coach John Hackworth after USA field to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
New Zealand vs Mali
The Ocenia champions were considered to be the favorite to qualify from Group B but finds themselves in a do-or-die situation against Mali after losing 4-2 against Paraguay. 2015 runners-up Mali however need just a draw to qualify for the pre-quarterfinals.
New Zealand did not leave any stone unturned in the practise sessions before their match against Mali on Thursday at the Nehru stadium in Delhi. They will however be boosted by the return of captain Max Mata, who comes back to the side after a one match suspension, following the red card against Turkey.
Turkey vs Paraguay
They were off to good start but a 3-0 defeat against Mali put them in crunch situation against Paraguay. They will however have to contain the Paraguay attack which has already scored seven goals in two matches. Anibal Voga and Leonardo Sanchez have been in top form in the tournament. They too play a do-or-die match and will a win can propel them ahead.
Paraguay meanwhile has already qualified for the round of 16 and will look to maintain their unbeaten run.
Live from Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, New Delhi:
Mali vs New Zealand – 5:00 p.m.
India vs Ghana – 8:00 p.m.
Live from DY Patil stadium, Navi Mumbai:
Turkey vs Paraguay -5:00 P.m.
USA vs Colombia – 8:00 p.m.