With less than 100 days to go for the first ever FIFA World Cup to be hosted by India, the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 India, India U-17 national team head coach Luís Norton de Matos believes that hosts, “India will be looking forward to the challenge presented and make an impression once the World Cup kicks-off in October 2017.”
Speaking at a Press Conference in the Capital today (July 20, 2017), the Portuguese Head Coach said, “The Team has progressed a lot and with less than 2.5 months to go, the squad will be giving their best in preparation. We are very confident going into the World Cup.”
“However, competition changes everything, there is added pressure, and then it depends how the Players will react.”
“The next coming months will be tough because the players will have to concentrate hard, but as a Team we cannot be more confident going into the first game, because I believe we can make an impression”, Matos added.
India has been drawn into Group A of the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 India along with United States of America (USA), Colombia and Ghana. The hosts will clash swords against USA on October 6, before facing Colombia on October 9 and Ghana on October 11.
Quipping on the Group India have been drawn in, Matos stated, “Our possibilities are small but we have a winning mentality. We have the winning spirit in us and will give our cent percent even if we have less chance of winning the match”
“After the draw, our Players (Sanjeev Stalin and Dheeraj Singh) told me that Coach we can win against them. My goal is to show the world that the Indian team can play at par with the best of the world.”
“We are not going to play against extra-terrestrials, we are going to play against humans, and the boys know that they can make an impression (in the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 India)”, Matos informed.
In an effort to field a strong team, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has provided the Indian U-17 World Cup Team an exposure trip of Europe wherein the Indian Colts faced Serbia, Macedonia and Benfica SL among other Club and National Teams. The Indian Colts next, would be flying to Mexico to partake in a Tournament featuring Mexico, Chile, and Colombia in August as part of exposure. The India U-17 team will also be playing International Friendlies against Mali, Australia, and other Countries.
“We have progressed a lot as a team in the last few months. We have produced good football but it does not matter when there are no points for your performances. However, we showed in Europe that Indian players are at par with European Players.”
“Indian Players can play like Portuguese players with holding the ball, keeping the ball and playing with the ball. And India has the potential to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in the next coming years.”
“We have spent hours on developing the passing technique and playing in close quarters and in the next few months we will be doing further good things,” the Portuguese said.
When inquired about his coaching philosophy, Matos stated, “A Footballer needs a ball like a Pianist needs a Piano. For me, everything is with the ball.”
“We have created exercises for the Players in a technical sense because when you put complexity in your exercises the Players are obliged to think and the most important thing on the field is to concentrate on the ball and think.”
Matos also applauded the hard work of the Indian Players and said, “The forte of my Team is their hard work. The boys give their cent percent all the time and are very very concentrated on the job.”
“The Players follow Footballing ideas very well and it is fascinating how quickly they can play different styles of Football. But at the same time they need to be intelligent on the field.”
The next few months are critical for the Indian U-17 World Cup Squad to put up a good show in the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 India. However, with hard work, Matos believes the Players have to be emotionally strong was well.
“Emotional intelligence is important for Football and we must not forget that these are U-17 boys. Anxiety is one of the basic mental issues in Football and as a Head Coach I try to deal with it by guiding my Players emotionally.”
“I try to make them emotionally strong on and off the pitch. I want to be their friend to keep their confidence and guide them in confidence,” he concluded.