USA's recent results show why India's FIFA U17 World Cup opener loss was no disgrace
India opened their FIFA World Cup account with a heavy 3-0 defeat against the USA at yesterday's FIFA U17 World Cup kick-off, but despite the loss, the Colts will be proud of their efforts.
Goals from Josh Sargent, Chris Durkin and Andrew Carleton saw the Young Stars and Stripes run out comfortable winners in what was expected to be a lopsided match. India played well during patches, with their defensive discipline shining through in a lot of the game's key moments.
However, at stages like the FIFA U17 World Cup, a little lapse in concentration can be costly, as Jitendra Singh was brutally reminded when he conceded the penalty that US captain Sargent converted. The overall picture, though, highlights the fact that India were more than competitive and their result was a creditable one considering the heavy defeats this USA U17 team have handed to their opponents in the recent past.
A quick glance at their big wins in the last 12 months gives a good perspective of how well the Indian Colts played in what was the biggest occasion of Indian football, let alone the players' lives. Following are the notable results:
USA 4-0 Costa Rica, October 2016
USA 7-1 Portugal, November 2016
USA 5-1 Turkey, December 2016
USA 4-0 Brazil, December 2016
USA 4-3 Mexico, April 2017
USA 3-1 Russia, August 2017
Although there were draws and defeats in between and the quality of their opponents varied wildly from match to match, the USA U17s are among the top teams in the sub-17 age category which once again goes to show how the Indians almost punched above their weight the whole 90 minutes yesterday.
There is no disgrace in losing 3-0 against an accomplished US team, whose captain has even played at the FIFA U20 World Cup, and irrespective of the result, the 21 players who represented India will be proud of their achievement.
The initiation phase of Indian football on the global stage is well and truly underway, and the spirit the team showed on their big day was nothing short of a victory. Beating the USA was always going to be a bridge too far, but even top footballing nations like Brazil and Portugal have come up short against the Americans in recent months.
Indian football still has a long way to go, and yesterday's defeat was more like a stepping stone to greater things than just a deflating evening of football.