Luis Norton de Matos, the U-17 Indian football coach, believes that the country has the potential to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in upcoming years owing to the talent of the current crop. Matos also suggested that his primary goal is to prove that Indian players are at par with the world's best.
The level of Indian football has improved drastically which was evident with the team recently jumping to the 96th place in the international rankings which is their best in 21 years. And the India U-17 football coach believes the team has the potential to qualify for the prestigious FIFA World Cup in the upcoming years.
“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,” Matos told News18.
The FIFA U-17 World Cup is set to kick-off in October in India and the Indian coach revealed that the team is very confident heading into the tournament.
"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 on how the Players will react. The next coming months will be tough because the players will have to concentrate hard, but as a
The Indian team has been placed in a difficult group with United States of America (USA), Colombia, and Ghana. The hosts will kick off their campaign against the USA on October 06 followed by matches against Colombia on October 09 and Ghana on October 11.
“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," said Matos in relevance to India's placement in the group.
However, he clarified that the players are all set to take on the challenge.
"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," Matos informed.
In a bid to prepare the team for the World Cup, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has arranged multiple matches for the U-17 team to sharpen their skills against the best in Europe where they faced Serbia, Macedonia, and Benfica SL among other Club and National Teams. The U-17 team secured a historic win against the U-17 Italian side
“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,” he said.
When questioned about his philosophy as the coach the Portuguese replied, “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."
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