6 October NEW DELHI (India) : India showed heart but lacked in skill and quality with a much superior United States of America handing them a sound 3-0 thrashing in the opening encounter of the FIFA U-17 World Cup on Friday.
Playing in their maiden FIFA tournament, rank outsiders India were outclassed by a side that was a few notches above the ‘Boys in Blue’ physically as well as technically. Captain and star striker Josh Sargent gave US the lead in the 30th minute through a penalty before Chris Dunkin (51st) got a freak goal and Andrew Carleton (84th) hit on the counter after the change of ends.
But for fine anticipatory skills of goalkeeper Moirangthem Deeraj Singh, who made some impressive saves, India could have conceded even more goals. As predicted by head coach Luis Norton de Matos, US made a wave attacks throughout the match and India were left to defend their citadel for the better part of the game. While the USA got several chances, India had only had a couple of clear look at the goal.
Midfielder Komal Thatal, the best Indian in sight today, wasted a chance in the second half when his lob was off target while Anwar Ali’s rasping shot in the 83rd minute hit the horizontal. The sizeable crowd at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium cheered the home players, who became the first ever national team to play in a FIFA World Cup at any level, but the gulf in the class was clearly evident.
The accuracy in passes, the first touch, positional sense of the US players made it clear that it was always a catching up game for the Indian boys. India were pushed back in their own half most of the time in the face of incessant US attack.The US attacking trio of Sargent, Tim Weah and Ayo Akinola kept the Indian defence on tenterhooks.