FIFA women’s U-17 World Cup: India open campaign against USA with hope to get at least a point

BHUBANESWAR: One of the least fancied sides in the tournament, India will begin as clear underdogs in their FIFA Women’s Under-17 World Cup opening match against the mighty USA here on Tuesday.
India had booked an automatic berth in the age-group showpiece as hosts and they are one of the three debutants in the tournament along with fellow Group A side Morocco and Tanzania (Group D).
Head coach Thomas Dennerby had said that the hosts will be a tough side to score against and taking a point from the formidable USA at the Kalinga Stadium on Tuesday can be a big achievement for India.
USA have come into the tournament as winners of the CONCACAF championships and they would look to open their campaign with a win, knowing fully well that a slip-up against India can cost them dear in a Group which also has title contenders Brazil.
The top two teams from each of the four groups will qualify for the quarterfinals and every point is crucial in such a high-stake tournament.
Dennerby’s side has prepared well for the tournament with exposure tours to Italy, Norway and Spain, though they have not played against very strong European and South American sides in the run-up to the showpiece.
He has said that his team has improved a lot in fitness and in defence while conceding that attacking is an area which his players will need to work upon.
“USA are the favourites against us, no doubt about that. But that is on paper and football is played on a pitch for 90 to 95 minutes. We feel that we also have a chance to get points against USA,” Dennerby said at the pre-match press conference.
“We have prepared well since February and the players are ready for the tournament. Reaching the quarterfinals will be a huge achievement but we are currently on Tuesday’s match,” he said with captain Astam Oraon by his side.
The core of the Indian team is made up of the players who won the 2022 U-18 Women’s SAFF Championship. Lynda Kom Serto, the leading scorer of the tournament, will spearhead the attack. —PTI

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