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FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017: Chile looking to overcome both England as well as adverse conditions in Kolkata

201   //    05 Oct 2017, 23:07 IST

Chile U17
The Chile U17 team will be up against it with England first up

Team Chile seems to be quite chilled out. They are to encounter a tough English team on October 8. It will be the very first encounter that the newly furbished Salt Lake stadium will witness in this FIFA U-17 World Cup.

While all the teams that have arrived so far in this city are eager to maintain secrecy, Chile held an open practice session even on their first official practice day at SAI. Incidentally, they had arrived in the city earlier to pack in two practice-sessions at a private club.

At the end of this day’s session, we spoke to two Chilean forwards – William Gama and Diego Valencia. The La Rojitas (The Little Red Ones) may not have the likes of Arturo Vidal or Alexis Sánchez but in their heart and their mind, they believe they are no less.

That came through the tender voice of Valencia who when speaking about any gaps in the practice preparations leading to their first encounter said, “We are concentrating to be as strong as a team and the rest - the game and all – the coach has to see what he’s gonna do but most of all we have to be strong as a team.” Gama, who is a big fan of his national team’s midfielder, Vidal also sounded hopeful when he said, “The practice is going good and the coach is motivated.”

Santiago Wanderers squad member, Gama said that they were prepared to take on the English team. And when he said, “England is a tough team. They depend on wing play and we are prepared for them,” it was understood that their homework is in place.

They were not intimated by the prospect of facing the likes of much-talked-about English stars like Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund) and Angel Gomes (Manchester United) who have played in senior-levels. Valencia who plays for CD Universidad Católica U19 simply said, “The basic thing is that they are really good but Chile is of equal status to them also but instead of being an enemy or something we are taking inspiration from them".

The World Cup is a big stage where a dazzling display gets noticed with a potential to attract big-name European clubs. And if it happens to a player, it can exponentially change his life.

On being asked does he aspire for such a fortune to befall him through this edition of the championships, Valencia said, “I am not thinking that far. Right now, the focus is on our group matches and to qualify for the pre-quarters.” In fact, Valencia is not even thinking about the Mexican team now. Asked about the ‘El Tri’, he said, “Mexican team is really strong team – but first they are concentrating on the match with England and then they will focus on Mexico.” 

Perhaps their strict coach, Hernan Caputto, has instilled this laser-focus in his lads. It was learnt that he is allowing the boys only two hours a day on the social media so that these colts are not too distracted from the task at hand.

But there is still one area which seems to be a work-in-progress: that of adapting to sub-continental heat and humidity. Chile had trained for nearly six-months under 35 degrees and 95% humidity conditions back at home, have taken to Hatha Yoga, was the first team to hit the city, practised on private-turf during match-timing and flood-lights but apparently are yet to have a handle on the heat. The support staff is leaving no stones unturned to keep these colts sufficiently hydrated. We saw the team doctor being summoned now and then to administer supplements to offset the hot-humid toll.

Come Sunday it seems that Chile may need to beat the heat as much as they need to beat England to stay on top of the game.

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Sudipto Mullick is a freelance writer and contributes on various subjects for The Statesman, Delhi Press ( magazines Woman's Era, Alive and their websites) and few other news portals.
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