Kolkata: India may have made a group stage exit in the Under-17 World Cup but their spirited show has impressed FIFA head of coaching and player development, Branimir Ujevic, who urged them to learn from mistakes and focus on the future.
Having blanked 0-3 by USA in their U-17 World Cup opener, India put up an impressive display to equalise against Colombia, but conceded in the very next minute to dash hopes of securing their first point in a FIFA tournament.
“It was obvious that they played adaptive game in the first match but they were amazing against Colombia. They were very organised, tactically and physically well-prepared,” Ujevic told reporters in a group league review news conference at the Salt Lake Stadium.
“They created a few scoring chances and were so enthusiastic and emotional jumping in joy after scoring the goal that they forgot to protect the goal in the next Colombian attack.
“Atmosphere was incredible. I hope they will learn a lot from this type of games otherwise it’s difficult to take a look into the future.”
“I give credit to the Indian people. For some games while going to stadium, I felt like I’m coming to Santiago, Old Trafford because of so many enthusiastic people who really enjoy football,” he added.
Ujevic was particularly impressed with India’s only goalscorer Jeakson Singh and custodian Dheeraj Singh, who was outstanding with his bold saves under the bar.
“In Indian team, you have two very nice midfield players and also the goalkeeper. The guy (Jeakson) who is just 16 years old and put his footpirnt in history of Indian football with his first ever goal for India. He’s only 16 and that would stay will in history books forever.
“This was the best possible learning tool for India U-17 team. Obviously, physically and tactically, they were well prepared with the big influence of Indian coach (Luis Norton de Matos).”
“Talking about individual approach, there were over excitement during games… There’s a lot of space to improve. They deserve this World Cup. They really showed a great commitment.”
In his first FIFA tournament as head of technical study group, Ujevic said: “It’s obvious from the group stage that teams had come well prepared. Teams showed different styles of play, depending on their confederation.
“Based on technical aspects, we could say the best 16 teams qualified for knock-out round. It would really be interesting to see how they’re prepared for the knockout stage. It’s a very very interesting line-up in round 16.”
“In general, there has been a plenty of enjoyable matches during group stage. It’s really fantastic football atmosphere, outstanding individual players,” he said summing up his experience so far.
He also gave credit to the coaches and refused to elaborate much on the negative sides, saying such things were normal in a developmental tournaments.
“The technical stuff they adapted going ahead was interesting. They were doing some interesting changes during the games. As tournament goes to the final round I hope it will be much more better and excitement.”
“You have always some positive and non-positive impacts in a development tournament. Here you’re talking about 16 year old boys… They were doing some amazing things as well as incredible individual mistakes, it’s all part of the development.
“We should give them an opportunity to grow as footballers. We have to arrange everything for the next tournament and make them ready for future,” he concluded.