FIFA U17 World Cup: Disciplined but unlucky India not the worst of the lot
The group stage of the FIFA U17 World Cup 2017 is at an end, and we have seen hosts India bow out of the tournament without a win. India aside, regular senior World Cuppers like Turkey, Chile and New Zealand also failed to progress past the groups. While the criteria for progression at the World Cup is based on points, goal difference, goals scored and so on where India finish bottom of the pile, a look at a few other indicators might just make for a positive reading in the Indian context.
125 goals in 36 matches so far give the FIFA U17 World Cup 2017 a healthy goals ratio of 3.5 per match, on par with some of the highest scoring U17 World Cups ever. India were not the only ones who crashed out without earning a single point. DPR Korea were clubbed with Brazil, Spain and Niger in Group D and they lost all three games.
That said, India were among the top disciplinary sides in the group stage, committing the second-fewest fouls with 24, behind only Japan. India also had the second-fewest yellow cards at the World Cup, with Boris and Amarjit's booking in the Ghana game the only ones.
As far as shot numbers go, India were among the most shot-shy teams in the group stage. the Colts managed a paltry 21 efforts, ahead of only Chile's 18, and hit the target seven times, one-third of all attempts. That said, the Colts could also be considered to be unlucky as they hit the post twice, fewer than only Spain and Mali and what would've happened had India scored two more goals is anyone's guess.
India might have scored just the solitary goal at the FIFA U17 World Cup, but that is not the extreme as far as goal-shy teams are concerned. Both Korea DPR and Chile had no goals to their name at the World Cup, with India's saving grace of a goal in their second match putting them ahead of their Asian and South American counterparts in the goals scored table.
That aside, credit must be given to Niger who qualified from a strong group comprising Spain and Brazil by scoring just a single goal. However, what sets the African debutants apart from India is the fact that their goal came in a 1-0 defeat of Korea DPR - three vital points.
Another thing to consider here is the fact that India were among the worst defensive teams during the group stages. The Colts conceded nine goals in three games, more than almost every other team apart from Honduras and New Caledonia, both of whom were on the receiving end of some razor-sharp attacks from France and Japan in Group E. Honduras conceded 11 goals, while debutants New Caledonia shipped 13.
Goals scored, goals conceded, shots attempted, points gained - India are in the basement in every basic category but there have been teams at this FIFA U17 World Cup who have performed worse than the Colts. Hence, it might just be safe to assume that India were poor but not the worst of the lot at the 2017 FIFA U17 World Cup.