Hosts India would like to put behind their loss against USA in the opening group fixture and put up a stellar performance against Columbia in their second Group A clash of the Fifa Under-17 World Cup at the Jawahar Lal Stadium in New Delhi on Monday.
Both teams require a positive result to boost their chances of qualification to the second round after India’s 0-3 drubbing against USA and Colombia’s 0-1 defeat to two-time champions Ghana in the first round games on Friday.
Though top four third-placed teams along with the top two from six groups will qualify for the Round of 16, neither the hosts nor the South Americans would ideally want to be pushed to the ‘lucky losers’ list who remain in contention to advance.
India coach Luis Norton de Matos devised a well thought out plan in his primary target of not conceding too many goals in India’s maiden appearance in a Fifa competition, opting for a well-coordinated four-man defensive unit along with two holding midfielders.
They defended deep in their half, making it difficult for the physical Americans to score. Their disciplined approach, however, faltered under mounting pressure.
Lapses in concentration led to conceding an avoidable penalty and a deflected goal. The biggest take away for the players from the defeat will be the realization that at this exalted level if you give an inch to the opposition, they will take a yard.
The experienced de Matos knows this well, which is why he picked an ultra-defensive set-up to guard against his boys’ inexperience.
While the move may have been justifiable to an extent against USA, particularly after India’s wasteful offensive display, his approach will be under scrutiny against Colombia who will be doubly motivated for three points after losing to Ghana.
In another Group A encounter on Monday, Ghana will take on the U.S.A. at the same venue while Turkey will lock horns with Mali in their Group B encounter. Meanwhile, Paraguay will also cross swords with New Zealand later.
They were the first to arrive in India but it did not reflect in their performance, emerging second best on every count against the Africans.
Colombia coach Orlando Restrepo will be aware of India’s defensive mentality, having beaten them 0-3 in a four-nation tournament in Mexico prior the Cup, and try to impose themselves from the very beginning.