As India gears up to create history with their first ever FIFA World Cup appearance in the self hosted U-17 World Cup event, the Blue Tigers have been slotted in the Group A with teams much experienced and accustomed with the global extravaganza. The Indian young guns will face two of the best sides competing in the tournament once they are done and dusted with visitors USA in their opener.
Colombia and Ghana have a rich history going into the tournament, the two team share football as their national sports and possess a team of proficient youngsters who are eager to put their names atop in world football. While Ghana has taken home two titles home in 1991 and 1995, Colombia has had a relatively unsuccessful campaign with 6 drought appearances at the global event. India however lags far behind the two opponents with its absolutely zero experience of World Cup football.
Let’s take a look at India’s other two rivals post USA
Colombia: The Los Cafeteros will be making their 6th appearance in the FIFA U-17 World Cup, Orlando Restrepo’s men have produced phenomenal performances in the South American tournaments. Their campaign in the Federation tournament was not as smooth with two straight losses against Chile and Brazil before securing a win against Paraguay to secure a spot in the World Cup.
Playing style — The Colombians are known for their pace and exemplary touches, they are seen as one of the best young sides in world football. The current team possess players with extraordinary talent and formidable strength which allows them to dominate their rivals in setpieces. Their major goal scoring exploits come from the front three of Santiago Barrero, Juan Penaloza and Jaminton Campaz who have managed 9 goals in between them at the South American U-17 Championships. The boys in yellow will look to trouble the Indian backline with their pacy wingers who run through opponent’s box keeping the ball on their foot.
Coach — Orlando Restrepo: A native coach gives the young boys an upper hand over most of the other teams. The 60-year-old has vast coaching experience in his resume, he also is a physical education instructor and a sports technology practitioner who keenly observes his players and trains them on his ideologies. He has also limited the player’s smart-phone and internet usage allowing them only 2 hours a day with their phones. Restrepo perfectly puts in place his boy’s aerial strength in play and allows them to keep the ball and break the opposition’s defence.
Ghana: Undoubtedly one of the best African sides in the game, Ghana is no new to the tournament having won it twice before in 1991 and 1995. They were the first ones from the continent top secure a berth in the World Cup after impressing in the CAF Africa u-17 Cup. However the Black Starlets have failed to impress in their recent U-17 campaigns.
Playing Style — They are agile and physically sound. The Black starlets believe in attacking and dismantling their opponents. With forwards Ibrahim Sully, and Emmanuel Toku at the helm of the attack, Ghana scored total 9 goals in the CAF U-17 Africa Cup more than any other team. Ibrahim particularly is a threat for defenders as the striker keeps floating in the opposition boxes continuously battling for the ball. Their World Cup pedigree makes them the most lethal side in the group.
Coach — Ghana again has a local coach at their disposal in Samuel Paa Kwesi Fabin who has promised the fans of trophies ahead of the campaign. Fabin is a rather controversial figure who was accused of playing an over-age player at the AFCON U-17 championship eventually resulting in a ban on the national side from federation tournaments. However, a man of strong character Fabin is known to get the best out of his players with rigorous drills and training, his side follow a strong counter attacking principle with saving the ball towards the end of the game.