‘Hard to Score Against Us,’ Says FIFA U-17 Women’s Coach Thomas Dennerby Ahead of World Cup Opener

Ahead of the first match in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup against USA, head coach Thomas Dennerby said that the Indian team’s main focus will be remain on executing the gameplan and if we can stick with our plans we have a team that is hard to score against.

India is set to begin its FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2022 campaign against the USA at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday.

Addressing the media at the official pre-match press conference, coach Dennerby spoke about opponents and his expectations from the match.

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“We have a team that we know can defend very well. Tomorrow, one thing that everyone should be able to see is how hard it will be to score against us. If we utilise the chances we create, we can come out with points. The USA will come as the favourites but it’s all on paper. Our focus is on our game plan. If we have our best day and score an early goal, it will be good for us,” he stated.

The Young Tigresses will have the backing of the home crowd to push them forward and Dennerby stressed how matters will be decided by what happens on the pitch.

“Home advantage is always there. Some girls can feel a little pressure if they see a large crowd in the stadium. However, it’s on the pitch that everything will be decided and the outcome of the match will be determined,” he said.

Captain Astam Oraon spoke about the team’s excitement levels ahead of the opening fixture and said the team is “strong physically and mentally.”

“The team is excited to play against the USA and finally get the tournament started after training together for 6-7 months. Tomorrow is the day when we have to leave everything on the field. Our full focus is on the matches ahead and nothing else matters to us,” the defender said.

She continued, “We have to sleep and rest well today. All the players are feeling strong physically and mentally. We have worked hard on our endurance levels through gym and running sessions. We will give our opponents a good fight tomorrow.”

Dennerby said, “We showed last week against Sweden that we can match up against one of the best teams in the world. Everyone is looking forward to the game tomorrow and all of us are ready.”

“Of course, India will qualify for the quarterfinals. Everyone starts from zero points. It will be a huge success if we reach that stage!” he added.

Astam, who hails from Gumla district in Jharkhand, lauded the support provided by the Governments of Odisha and her home state.

“The Government of Jharkhand has helped a lot during our training time in Jamshedpur. The same goes for the Government of Odisha — everything is well-organised, the facilities are excellent and the overall environment is extremely positive. We are really happy about everything,” she said.

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