FIFA U17 World Cup: How India can still qualify for the knockout stage
India’s second game at the U-17 World Cup ended in a 2-1 loss to Colombia. The match was pretty exciting with India showing resilience from the start. The defence was organized pretty well and India had two very good scoring opportunities in the first, one of them being saved by the Colombian goalie and the other hitting the post.
India shut out the Colombians for 49 minutes before Juan Penaloza struck home the opening goal. India found a ray of hope in the 82nd minute when Jeakson Singh Thounaojam scored the first Indian goal of the competition. However, the happiness was short-lived as moments later, Penaloza struck his second goal to win the match for Colombia.
Yesterday’s result has put India on the brink of elimination and Colombia on the brink of qualification in the knockout stages. However, USA had previously defeated Ghana 1-0 thanks to a winner from their star striker Ayo Akinola which not only confirmed their qualification to the last 16 but also kept India still in contention for a place in the last 16.
Yes, India do have a chance of making it to the knockout stages, albeit a very, very, very slight chance. So, what do India need to do in order to qualify for the Round of 16? Well, firstly they have to defeat two-time champions Ghana in their final group game at Delhi and make sure that the USA defeat Colombia in Navi Mumbai.
Here are the first three criteria for qualification into the knockout rounds:
#1 points obtained in all group matches
#2 goal difference in all group matches
#3 number of goals scored in all group matches
However, a win for both India and USA in their final group games will not exactly lead to India qualifying for the knockout stages as India should have a goal-difference better than Ghana and Colombia as well. Currently, India have an astronomically negative goal difference of -4 compared to Colombia’s and Ghana’s 0.
Hence, a win by at least three goals against Ghana is a must for India to better Ghana’s goal-difference. Provided India win by three goals, India’s goal-difference will be -1 while Ghana’s goal difference will be -3. So that is assured to keep India above Ghana.
Now, for India to go above Colombia, USA will have to defeat Colombia by at least two goals which will make Colombia’s goal difference -2 and India will qualify for the knockout stages provide they beat Ghana by the aforementioned margin.
Also, the four best third-placed teams in the group stage will also progress, so India also have a chance to go through as the third best team if Colombia beat the USA, but the Colts have to beat Ghana no matter what. Currently, the Africans sit on top of the third-placed teams' table, with Iraq, New Zealand and Costa Rica following them.