India’s debut at a FIFA competition ended in a 3-0 loss after the FIFA U-17 World Cup hosts fell to the USA in their Group A opener in New Delhi on Friday evening.
In the country’s maiden appearance in any World Cup, India showed sparks in patches but lagged way behind in class.
A passionate crowd at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium roared the home side on throughout the duration of this historic match for Indian football. However, it was John Hackworth’s Stars and Stripes that showed their qualities in getting their tournament account off to a winning start.
USA’s match-winner came from the penalty spot on the half-hour mark. Josh Sargent picked up where he left off at the U-20 World Cup in the Korea Republic earlier this year by converting the spot-kick after the American captain was fouled in the box by Jitendra Singh.
The Stars and Stripes doubled their lead shortly after the break when Chris Durkin struck home a USA corner that deflected past India goalkeeper Dheeraj Moirangthem.
The Americans wrapped up a convincing victory on 84 minutes through Andrew Carleton moments after India struck the crossbar with their best chance of the match.
USA coach John Hackworth, too, was not pleased with his team’s performance but praised the Indians for their spirit and tenacity.
“I am very happy with the performance. This is not the way we play. But India really put up a fight. They were too hard to break down. So, full credit to them,” Hackworth said.
Asked to name one Indian player who stood out in the game, the American picked three — central defenders Anwar and Sanjeev Stalin and goalkeeper Dheeraj Moirangthem.
“The two stoppers stood out and also the goalkeeper did a very good job.”
Matos said India should look at the bigger picture.
“This is the first time our players were playing in front of a crowd of 40,000 and that too, against a team of the quality of USA. My players were shy at the beginning. It’s very hard to control emotions at this level.”
“We were more confident in the second half. For Indian players the experience of playing in the World Cup will help them in the long run,” said the 63-year-old who was entrusted with guiding the U-17 team in the mega event this March.