Hosts India and Sweden will contest the final of the U17 Women’s Football Tournament 2019 at the Mumbai Football Arena on Thursday and head coach Thomas Dennerby made his intentions clear, saying his side will push for victory.
“We will go for the win against Sweden. No matter who we play, we always strive to win – not for a draw or to lose by just one or two goals. We can change tactics for different games and that is to win and not to let in lesser goals. We are going for it,” Dennerby exclaimed.
India sealed their spot in the final with a 1-0 win against Thailand on Tuesday, which Dennerby termed as “crucial.” With Dennerby, a former Sweden and Nigeria head coach reserved a special word for goalkeeper Manju Ganjhu.
“It was a crucial win and means a lot for the team’s self-confidence. You can win by luck or by deserving it and in this case, we deserved it. We played well, created many chances and should have scored at least three more goals,” he said. “Our keeper was very good and made crucial saves. We were looking to attack towards the end of the match and Thailand could have scored on the break.”
Manju reflected on upon how the team is preparing for the next game and credited goalkeeping coach Precious Dede as well for helping her improve.
“We are working extremely hard and we will give our all in the final against Sweden. I have learned a lot from Precious ma’am, such as gripping, diving, etc., and want to keep doing better for my team,” she said.
The tournament opener featured the same teams playing each other and it was the Swedes who were on the winning end of a 3-0 scoreline. Talking about the challenge at hand, Dennerby said that the previous result was much closer than what the score suggests and that the players will be better prepared this time around.
“Sweden will come out strong but the difference will be that our girls have the first game in mind. Now, they know better how to handle the pressure. In the first 10 minutes versus Sweden, we were a little bit anxious. Now, I hope we can manage them better. We were closer than the result – 2-1 instead of 3-0 would have been better,” the coach added.
“We have improved over the tournament. The intensity of our game is higher and the understanding of how many easy chances you can create from taking good positions in defence has grown. We are trying to find a model where we can conserve energy in defence so that we can attack with speed and intensity.”
Sweden coach Par Lagerstrom shared his reading of India’s game as well over the last two matches and said that he was “impressed” by their gameplay.
“It is difficult to compare the Indian team over the two games. I was impressed by India – they have a great keeper, left-winger and centre-backs. We have a lot of respect for them and I’m sure they will play a good game tomorrow,” he stated.