India will look to move past its nightmare start against the United States of America (USA) when it takes on Morocco in its second group-stage match of the FIFA women’s under-17 World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Friday.
The Blue Tigresses, making their World Cup debut, were decimated 8-0 by Natalia Astrain-coached USA, with five goals coming in the first 39 minutes of play.
“We stick to the plan that we’re trying to do, whatever we can do in the next game, and if we win against Morocco, there’s still a chance,” said Indian coach Thomas Dennerby, about the team’s chances of making the knockout rounds.
The team do well to not concede early goals and draw from the energy of the raucous home support, which was stunned into silence by the American carnage.
Though the odds are heavily stacked against India, there is still a minute chance of qualification to the last eight.
Dennerby’s side will need to work on its composure and on its passing from the back – something that was not just exposed but punished brutally by the USA.
In its final practice session before matchday, the team trained with gusto, with little sign of any longstanding effect of Tuesday’s drubbing.
India is expected to change from a 4-2-3-1 shape to a 4-1-4-1 formation, enforcing high pressure on the opposition with Lynda Kom Serto at the head of the attack.
The host, which practised triangular passing drills last time, concentrated more on circular passes to keep the formation fluid and the progression of play fast.
But, if Anthony Rimasson’s Morocco presses high, these circular passes may lead to interceptions in counterattacks, bringing in trouble for India like the passage of play leading to Onyeka Gamero’s strike in the game against the United States.
Goalkeeper Anjali Munda is expected to start in goal despite the loss – with the Jharkhand girl playing in the starting XI in the initial practice.
Facing almost a must-win situation, coach Dennerby wants his players to enjoy the moment and not be overawed by the occasion. “I talked with the girls about when I was in the locker room for minutes after (full-time against the USA). And I told them, ‘Girls, the sun is going to come up in India tomorrow anyway. And if we have a sleepless night, we will not perform better,” he said. “I will be there tomorrow morning, smiling, supporting them, and trying to encourage them the best way I can.”
About India’s opponent
Morocco looked defensively strong against a counter-attacking Brazil, limiting it to just one goal. Against India, it is expected to have a double pivot in attack with Yasmine Zouhir and Doha el Madani operating from either side.
Morocco team players are seen on their training session on the eve of the match against India in the FIFA U-17 Women’s world Cup 2022 in Bhubaneswar.
| Photo Credit: BISWARANJAN ROUT/THE HINDU
“We have worked a lot together, so we want to show the best image of Morocco. The host country is used to the weather here, and the pitch and will also have home fans backing them. Though our team is ready, all games will be difficult because all have different styles of play,” said Rimasson.
In the final practice before the match, Morocco looked at finding headers from set-pieces and is expected to take the long ball approach – aerial crosses from the midfield to the strikers in front – against India’s high-press.
The other matches
In the other match, two Group A heavyweights Brazil and the United States of America will lock horns.
Natalia’s side skipped training the day after its commanding win, while Brazil had an intense workout.
“The players on the roster are very humble,” Natalia said. “The next objective is to go step by step. Now that they have won today, no one will think this is easy. I can promise you that tomorrow in the recovery practice, some of them will ask to continue playing the same way.”
For Brazil, No. 9 Johnson will be the focal point of the attack, with Aline and Carol pulling the strings in midfield. But the team will be cautious about tracking back on time, a deficiency seen in its game against Morocco.
USA focused on endurance training, indicating a fast-paced and high-intensity football to give Brazil a run for its money.
In the other two matches (on Matchday 2), Germany will play Chile – both of whom won their opening fixtures, while Nigeria will face New Zealand, which finished third in the tournament four years ago.
Both matches will be played at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Margao, Goa.
Match Schedule for 14th October
Brazil vs USA – Kalinga Stadium – 4:30 pm kick off
India vs Morocco – Kalinga Stadium – 8:00 pm kick off
New Zealand vs Nigeria – Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium – 4:30 pm kick off
Germany vs Chile – Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium – 8:00 pm kick off