FIFA U17 World Cup: England stars Angel Gomes and Danny Loader talk positives after Iraq game
The FIFA U17 World Cup 2017 again showcased the talent that England has at the youth levels. Be it any part of the field, the Young Lions' thumping victory against Iraq in their last group game showed a glimpse of the depth of their squad ranks that coach Steve Cooper had been talking about from the start of his campaign in Kolkata.
England had made a whopping 8 changes in their squad from their unchanged lineup of the first two games. The coach gave an opportunity to most players of his 21 man squad in the final game, highlighting the importance of a good squad depth in such a tournament. Only defenders Marc Geuhi and Joel Latibeaudiere and star man Jadon Sancho, for whom it might be the end of the road with a Dortmund call back were retained. Manchester United starlet Angel Gomes was given the captain's armband and handed his first start after putting impressive displays previously and he maintained his momentum as he started the scoring for the Englishmen. The attacking midfielder was set up by Nya Kirby, who like Gomes was handed his first start since coming off the bench in the first match and showed how good he could be, dictating the midfield play and holding the ball up when required.
Talking after the game a happy Gomes said "It's obviously great to get my first start. Happy to get a goal and another assist. But the main focus was on winning the game and topping the group by getting maximum points. It's an advantage, we don’t have to travel and we’ll be staying in the same hotel. They’ve made us feel welcome at the hotel and we are happy to be staying here ". "In a World Cup or to represent England at any level, is a great bonus. We’ve got a great team and to be captain of such a team, I’m very proud." he further added.
Arsenal's representative in this young exciting young side, Emile Smith-Rowe, too made the most of his first start and was lively throughout. He earned a penalty midway through the first half but in a very anti-climatic manner, Sancho, who already scored three failed to convert from the spot. Smith-Rowe later created and finished a great buildup to double England's lead before the Danny Loader show started.
The youngster who plies his trade for reading was an instant impact off the bench and showed how even without the likes of Phil Foden and Jadon Sancho, England certainly don't lack firepower. Loader scored a brace to seal off England's victory, using his pace and composure on the ball to full utility, as he combined with fellow Championship player Steven Sessegnon, who set loader up on both occasions. A performance that deserves a start next match? Well, Loader thinks all he can do is keep on working hard."You know there's always competition for a place, but let's see in the next game. But it never gets to a point where there's bitterness regarding a starting spot within players. I'm just going to be pushing and doing my best and it's the coach's decision" said the striker.
Loader believes he has learned a lot already during his stay here in India and talked fondly about the Young Lions community outreach work during the week, visiting a local school.."It was an amazing experience for me personally and for all of us, were not used to doing this but we wanted to give something back to them, cause they've done lots for us. It's a great life experience as well. There's a lot of differences from things back home and it kind of puts things in perspective for us." he said.