Spirited India face tough Ghana test

Africans will come all guns blazing after a poor show agains the US

Spirited India face tough Ghana test

India’s inaugural foray in the FIFA under-17 World Cup has left lasting impressions.

The colts’ spirited performances have captured the attention of the country. The boys have broken mental and physical barriers and grown in expectations. Their last group A contest against two-time champions Ghana on Thursday would present them with yet another opportunity to test their character.

India had qualified for the prestigious tournament by virtue of being the host nation. It was a historic moment for the country which has struggled to raise a team worthy of playing a football World Cup. The teenagers faced the challenges of measuring up to the skills and endurance, not to forget the experience, of their fancied opponents. Enduring the pressure of playing in front of home fans has only helped the Indian team emerge the best advertisement for the future of football in the country.

Following their rousing performance against the United States, which boasts of future stars Josh Seargent and Tim Weah, the Indians earned respect from the opponents and supporters. Against Colombia, they stepped it up magnificently. The hosts not only pushed the Latin Americans, scoring their first World Cup goal, but creating a hope in the mind of coach Luis Norton De Matos, who was convinced India could have won too. The response from the spectators, who grew in numbers with every contest, made it a night to remember. It ended in a heartbreaking loss but the young Indians had learnt their lessons.

If Jeakson Singh etched his name in the history with a stunning goal, the names of Anwar Ali, goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh and Sanjeev Stalin would also not be forgotten. They promise to grace the Indian circuit for a long time. The organised defence has been the side’s best feature and has come in for praise from the rival team’s coaches too. The 4-4-1-1 combination has worked well for Matos’ boys. It will be a severe test against Ghana, a team known for swift counter-attacks.

For Ghana, it was a miserable outing against the US. Despite being the better team and opening up a flurry of chances, it invariably fumbled at the finish. With their power play and physical style, the “Black Starlets” make for an imposing unit. They can be expected to come out all guns blazing.

The Indian campaign augurs well for Indian football. The stands would fill up with hopes of witnessing another irrepressible show. Win or lose, they will be India’s little champions.

NZ meet Male

The African champions Mali will meet New Zealand in the opening match of the day in Group B. A draw would help Mali qualify while New Zealand have just a draw against their name so far.

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