De Matos Happy With Defence. Wants Improvement In Attacking Third
India U-17 team’s performance over the two games in the ongoing World Cup has showcased their resilience. Against the US, in their first taste of competition at the highest stage, they showed glimpses of the hard work they had put in. Then against Colombia, they made it difficult for the South Americans.
Historically, Indian teams are vulnerable to threat from set-pieces and crosses. But the current squad is displaying an unyielding obduracy in face of aerial attacks. After the game, India U-17 coach, Luis Norton de Matos, stressed upon this point. When asked about India’s strength, he said: “We are very strong in organisation (in defence).
The boys have shown a lot of concentration and proved that scoring against us will be very difficult.”
Even Colombia’s coach, Orlando Restrepo, talked about India’s centre-backs. “It’s hard for me to remember their names, but the two centre-backs (Anwar Ali and Namit Deshpande) kept the team organized. It was a balanced game. They did everything they could,” Restrepo said.
Still India conceded two, one just after the breather while the Colombian winner came a minute after India’s equaliser. “After we scored, it was like a dream for the players. It is exactly the point we will have to improve upon and concentrate more. It will come with experience,” said de Matos.
De Matos has been harping upon emotional management and maturity from the day he took charge. “We would like to score first sometime. We scored towards the end of the game. The happiness of the players saw them lose concentration. We don’t have this experience. The boys were living the dream still when Colombia scored.”
His team having earned praise from both the US and Colombian coaches, De Matos feels his efforts are slowly paying off. Goalkeeper Dheeraj Moirangthem has been highly talked about after effecting some stupendous shot-stopping. In the four-nation tournament in Mexico, India conceded nine goals of which seven were from set-pieces.
“We needed to do something fast. We hired Paulo Grilo as our goalkeeping coach. He worked with all three goalkeepers and you can see the result.”
What needs most improvement, De Matos thinks, is in the attacking third. “There has to be more consistency in delivering the final pass. The transition into attack is an area we have to work upon.”
Being the optimist that he is, De Matos sees a fantastic future for this group.
by Saumyajit Basu, from Times of India