BHUBANESWAR: India head coach Thomas Dennerby admitted that his team was no match to the USA after it suffered a 0-8 humiliation in their FIFA Women’s U-17 World Cup opener but insisted that the home team is capable of playing better.
Dennerby had claimed that India can compete against any team in the age-group showpiece, his comment coming on the basis of the close game (1-3 loss) the team played against Sweden in the lead up to the tournament.
“I did not expect to let in so many goals because defending has been quite good when they played against Sweden two and half weeks ago. We defended very well, we had two shots on the bar and we were creating chances. But honestly USA were one level up even if you compare with Sweden at least,” the coach said on Tuesday.
Dennerby had said before the USA match that “if you can play a close game against Sweden, you can do that with any team in this tournament”.
Incidentally, Sweden did not qualify for the final round of the UEFA U-17 Championships, the European qualifying tournament for the FIFA event.
Dennerby had earlier said that India had prepared well for the U-17 World Cup. However, during an interaction with media, he said that they haven’t played any side of the standard of USA in the lead-up to the showpiece.
The India U-17 side played against Romania (one draw and one loss), Italy (0-7 loss), the Netherlands (1-5 defeat), Sweden (1-3 defeat), Chile (1-3 defeat) and Mexico (0-2 loss) in lead up to the event.
Out of these countries, Romania, Italy and Sweden could not qualify for the UEFA U-17 Championships. Chile and Mexico are competing in the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
“No doubt USA are really a good side. If you look at the USA players, the skilfulness, their speed and you cannot find any weak point in their team. So far the games we have played earlier this year, no team was up to this level,” Dennerby said.
“We have not played against any team which sends in top quality corners and players like six feet tall coming in and jumping very high and heading with top class quality,” the Swede added.
He said the Indian team can do better, adding that the players were nervous due to the big occasion.
“It was definitely very tough for us. But of course I also know that team India can play a little bit better than this. My feeling is that the girls were a little bit too nervous, could not handle the situation as it was their first World Cup game,” he said.