It’s been a riverting start to the U17 World Cup, hosted on Indian soil for the first ever time, and expectations had been elevated come Saturday evening in what was to be a footballing extravaganza on a junior scale, when Brazil and Spain squared off in Gods own Country, Kerala on saturday 7th October, 2017.
The Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, Kochi, and it’s xxx spectators bore witness to a dogged Seleccao overthow the Armada to win 2-1 in a tight battle. Wesley Andrade (5′) was guilty of putting the ball into his own net early on but Lincoln Dos Santos (25′) equalized for the Samba Nation. Paulinho Filho (45+1) ensured that Brazil secured all three points before the half-time break.
Brazil coach, Carlos Amadeu, had satisfaction on his lips as he stated, “It was a well-played game. Both teams were trying to play a beautiful style of football. Our players started nervously. After the first goal, they remained calm and play their football. Second half Spain were better. They had more possession and corners but our defence was good. Our goalkeeper was also playing really well today,” post his fledglings’ win.
“Both Antonio and Alan had a great game. During the competition, you will watch players exhibiting such football. We have many quality players. It’s important for a coach to have players like them. Not just them, all our players,” revealed the gaffer, on his two best performers on the evening.
Amadeu believed in the quality of mental strength and explained the mentality of his players was crucial to how they approached the task, coming back from a goal own so early in the game.
“The most imp thing is the mental power. Its the basis for everything that you do in your life. When you score/concede goal, you have to use your mental power to remain calm and score your goal. Also if you are winning the game, you cannot be relaxed. It happened today with us, we remained focused in the game. This collective style of playing of this team is being built since 2015. Players like to play that way, together, in an offensive way,” he elaborated.
Finally, the 52 year-old genuflected to massive support for the Brazilian team from the residents of Kochi, as the stadium was ushered in a sea of yellow. It is important to note that the religiousy Indian Super League (ISL) team Kerala Blasters too play football in a yellow kit and all the kits of yellow in the crowd may not have been that of Brazil’s.
On the pitch, which seemed not too conducive to a free flowing style of football, the Salvador-born coach opined, “It was a good pitch but it was wet. The ball was getting (stuck at times). But it was a good facility to play football.”
“We felt really welcome here in India, especially in Kerala, Kochi. The coincidence between the kit colours of Brazil and Kerala Blasters was good for us. We could see the support.
It is really important to have the support of the crowd. We want to give something back to you.
“We are feeling like home. here. I realized that you have a team in yellow here. It is important to have the crowd supporting us. It was the first game at such a high level. We know how important it is to win the first half,” he concluded.
Santiago Denia, Spain’s coach on the other hand, was far more reserved of his team’s display and regretted their inability to equalize and share the spoils in his immediate post-match address.
“(It was an) Equally contested match. We played well in the first 10 minutes and then Brazil had a very good first half. We played better in the sec half. We could have equalized. We still have areas to improve,” stated Denia.
The coach stressed that his entire team needed to buck up, when quizzed ont he performance of his starlets Abel Ruiz and Sergio Gomez.
“Sergio Gomez played like he played in Euro Champs. Both him and Abel played a good match. The whole teams need to improve. We have two games left and we will try to win that,” explicitly warned the 43 year-old.
An Atletico Madrid Stalwart, Denia couldn’t get his head around how many of his players suffered “muscular problems”.
“Its not normal to see so many players have a muscular problem. Spain has been here just for four days. We are working with our docs and physios to improve this,” he clarified.
Finally, the La Liga winner expressed dissatisfaction with the set-piece decision making of his fledglings, concluding, “It is a concern. We need to improve on these matters. It is the players who take the last call (decision). In the training, we play either short or directly. It is the players who decide (if free kicks) are short or direct.”
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