FIFA U-17 World Cup: Chile's coach hails India after thrilling performance in 1-1 draw
What's the story?
The Indian U-17 side finished the four-nation tournament on a high after salvaging a 1-1 draw against Chile who are considered as one of the strongest youth teams in South America. Despite losing the first two matches, India avoided a defeat in their final game in Mexico with their performance catching the eye of Chile U-17 coach Hernan Caputto and FIFA U-17 World Cup tournament director Javier Ceppi.
Sources from the local Chilean media also quoted Caputto as saying: "India has a very competitive team and it would be a big mistake if other teams at the U-17 World Cup take them lightly. We were quite surprised to see their defensive strength today. "
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India faced hosts, Mexico in the first game of the tournament and suffered a brutal 5-1 loss at the hands of the Mexicans. It was followed by a 3-0 loss against Colombia. India and Colombia are in the same group for the World Cup and will line up against one another soon.
The heart of the matter
India started brightly against Chile but went down in the first half after La Roja scored from a set piece in the 40th minute. Nongdamba Naorem equalized for India in the 55th minute with a belter of a strike. It was a commendable result for the Indian Colts against a side which were runners-up at the 2017 South American Championship.
The Chilean boss was rightly impressed by India's attacking play with his sentiment being echoed by the FIFA U-17 World Cup technical director Javier Ceppi. Ceppi was ecstatic about the competitive spirit showed by the Indians against one of the best South American sides.
The Indian Colts, meanwhile, are on their way back to the country and will take part in a national camp under head coach, Luis Norton De Matos. They are expected to play a number of practice games before the final showdown in October with the Mexico experience expected to be a learning curve for the Indian youngsters.
India still has a long way to go to be completely prepared for the country's biggest ever hosted event. But the progress that this U-17 side has made under the Portuguese tactician proves that the team is on the right track. Results like that of against Chile will give the nation a sense of hope for things to come. And to be appreciated by the rival coach will mean a lot to the players and the manager.