New Delhi: The will was there but lack of competitive experience did not help India’s cause in the U-17 World Cup, felt the players who represented the country in its maiden FIFA tournament.
The hosts crashed out of the tournament at the group stage, losing all their three matches. They gave a tough fight to Colombia in their 1-2 defeat but suffered drubbings against the USA (0-3) and Ghana (0-4).
“The experience was very good. We were playing against top teams in the world and Ghana were two-time champions. We learnt a lot from them,” captain Amarjit Singh said.
He said the players gave their all but the lack of competitive experience got the better of their determination to win.
“We had team meetings and we had resolved we will give not 100 per cent but 200 per cent. We go out to play to win because there has been massive support and we wanted to do well and to give our best for the fans. But we lack experience.
“We started playing football after we are 10 years old but they (players of other teams) started at five or six. So there is a lot of difference. Now the AIFF is focussing on this. Going ahead, the AIFF has a lot of plans and I think India will do well in future tournaments,” said Amarjit.
He also said that the Indians players were tired and having niggles after playing two high intensity matches.
“Towards the end (against Ghana) we were a bit tired because we were playing two high intensity matches. It was difficult for the players because there were niggles or tightness in muscles in some players,” he said.
India scored one goal in the tournament, a bullet header by Jeakson Singh against Colombia.
“We need to work really hard in future if we have to compete at this level,” said Jeakson, who became the first to score a World Cup goal.
“Ghana players were very strong and fast. We were also having some individual approach during the match.”
Asked what head coach Luis Norton de Matos said at the half time when India were 0-1 down, Jeakson said, “Coach said it is not going to be easy but we have to fight like we have been doing in the last two matches.”
Left full back Sanjeev Stalin said that India would need to play a lot of competitive matches to be able to compete at this level.
“Every game we learnt something. It is a World Cup, the best teams are playing. We need to play a lot of competitions,” Stalin said.
Asked if India could have played better against USA, Stalin said, “It was our first game (against USA) and so we lost a bit of concentration.