‘India Can Certainly Play Better’, Says Head Coach Thomas Dennerby After 0-8 Drubbing Against USA

Thomas Dennerby has stated prior to the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, India are eyeing a quarterfinal berth. India play Morocco and Brazil on October 14 and 17 respectively.

India and USA players tussle for the ball during their FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup 2022.

India head coach Thomas Dennerby admitted that his team was no match to the USA after they suffered a 0-8 humiliation in their FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2022 opener but insisted that the home team is capable of playing better. (More Football News)

Dennerby had claimed that India can compete against any team in the age-group showpiece, his comment coming on the basis of the close game (1-3 loss) the team played against Sweden in the lead up to the tournament.

“I did not expect to let in so many goals because defending has been quite good when they played against Sweden two and half weeks ago. We defended very well, we had two shots on the bar and we were creating chances.

“But honestly USA were one level up even if you compare with Sweden at least,” the coach said on Tuesday. Dennerby had said before the USA match that “if you can play a close game against Sweden, you can do that with any team in this tournament”.

Incidentally, Sweden did not qualify for the final round of the UEFA U-17 Championships, the European qualifying tournament for the FIFA event. Dennerby had earlier said that India had prepared well for the U-17 World Cup.

However, during an interaction with media, he said that they haven't played any side of the standard of USA in the lead-up to the showpiece. The India U-17 side played against Romania (one draw and one loss), Italy (0-7 loss), the Netherlands (1-5 defeat), Sweden (1-3 defeat), Chile (1-3 defeat) and Mexico (0-2 loss) in lead up to the event.

Out of these countries, Romania, Italy and Sweden could not qualify for the UEFA U-17 Championships. Chile and Mexico are competing in the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

“No doubt USA are really a good side. If you look at the USA players, the skilfulness, their speed and you cannot find any weak point in their team. So far the games we have played earlier this year, no team was up to this level,” Dennerby said.

“We have not played against any team which sends in top quality corners and players like six feet tall coming in and jumping very high and heading with top class quality,” the Swede added. He said the Indian team can do better, adding that the players were nervous due to the big occasion.

“It was definitely very tough for us. But of course I also know that team India can play a little bit better than this. My feeling is that the girls were a little bit too nervous, could not handle the situation as it was their first World Cup game,” he said.

“In the beginning, we did not even try to pass the ball to each other. There was something in the way, not comfortable enough to start playing. I was screaming the girls to start playing.

“After 3-0, it was for USA to just play their game and have fun and it was tough for us. But the good thing is there are two more games to go and I hope we can show everyone that India is much better than this. We can have a much better game than this against Morocco.”

India are in a difficult position to qualify for the quarterfinals from Group A, a goal Dennerby had set for the side before the tournament.

They play against Morocco at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Friday. The African side had lost 0-1 to title contenders Brazil in another match on Tuesday. The top two teams from each of the four groups will qualify for the quarterfinals.

“We will stick to our plan and try to win the next game and if we manage to do so, there's still a chance. I hope we end the tournament with points. We have a big chance to have a fair game with Morocco.

“When I watched the game between Brazil and Morocco, my personal feeling is that that game was played at a little bit lower pace.” Dennerby had said before the tournament that India would be a difficult team to score against but the home team defence just caved in against a rampaging USA.

“"The funny thing is that for a very long time we didn't let in any goal from set pieces. We have been defending very well. Honestly, I was little bit surprised we used to be very sharp on defending set pieces but of course that was not the case today.”

“We have been working hard at the camp, 14 to 17 hours a day for six months. We have to remember that if you see the level today and six months before, it is a huge difference. I have not lost a match in a championships or a tournament with 8-0 before. I don't know what was the worst result before this.”