New Delhi: India under-17 football coach Luis Norton de Matos on Thursday said that his team was tired and drained in the second half.
India were humbled 4-0 at the hands of Ghana at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in the capital. Speaking to media persons after the match, Matos said, “For me, its simple, we suffered a lot in the third game against Ghana. The difference was big today. We play first half and in the dressing room the boys were finished and it showed in the second half. My players were drained. When you are physically tired, the brain doesn’t work.”
Heaping praise on the African team, Matos conceded that it was complicated to play a team of the level of Ghana. “They were the most difficult team of the group”, he said.
He went on to add that Ghana had game-changers in all positions. “Every player can decide the game in Ghana team. Wingers, right, left full backs”, he added.
Indian defender Sanjeev Stalin was also present with his coach in the media briefing. Stalin was proud of his team and he thanked the fans for their support.
“Our team did a good job. We made the fans love football more. We have a long way to go”, he said.
When asked why midfielder Komal Thatal was kept out, the coach refused to talk about individuals and said he believed in the team as a collective.
de Matos yet again highlighted the need for more professional exposure. “The process of football should begin soon. Children in the age group of 4,5,6 years should be nurtured. I am very proud of the behaviour of the players. This generation is the fantastic generation for the future”, he said.
He also cited the example of New Zealand, who had once lost 13-0 in 1997. After that defeat, they changed the landscape of football and it was evident now as they were regulars in football world cups.
“We need to invest in these under-17 boys”, he added.
The coach was also asked if playing both forwards in this match would have changed fortunes or not. Matos vehemently dismissed it saying that India would have lost 7-0 or 8-0.
“Perhaps 7-0, 8-0. We have to be organised. I know the quality of African players. Stayed in Senegal for five years. These Ghana players are faster, and technically gifted. If I play more forwards, there will be less players do defend. This team was very tired in the second half”, he said.
The coach also wants these players to play in the I-League. He said the under-17 World Cup experience was more challenging than the I-League. “If these players play I-League at this age, they can definitely play at the top level with the exposure they get playing in the domestic league. “They (India U-17 footballers) are as intelligent as others. This (FIFA U-17 World Cup) is better than I-League, this experience is stronger than I-League. Because I know very well when the ISL teams go to play against the fourth division sides in Spain, they lose,” Norton said.