Mumbai, Dec 18 (IANS) The Indian U-17 Womens team has secured a place in the summit clash of the U17 women’s football tournament 2019 and head coach Thomas Dennerby believes playing the final against a top-quality European side will hand plenty of experience to the players.
Emotions ran high among the fans and players as the young girls soaked in the adulation from the supporters after their 1-0 victory against Thailand. The victory marked India U-17 Women’s first win under Dennerby.
Dennerby, a UEFA Pro Diploma holder, comes with a rich experience of 30 years of coaching in which he guided the Sweden women’s national team to a third-place finish in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011, and a quarterfinal spot in the 2012 London Olympics.
“Advancing to the final is great for everyone involved — the players, fans and the federation. The girls will get the experience of playing in a final and that too against a top-quality European team which will be similar to what we will get at the U-17 World Cup next year. For the fans as well it will be a chance to see the team in action and I hope we have a good atmosphere in the stadium tomorrow,” he quipped.
India began the tournament with a three-goal loss to Sweden but bounced back with the win against Thailand. Dennerby said that the final will be a different proposition compared to the first game.
“We need to be confident from the start against Sweden. We already know how they play. There was improvement in our game against Thailand and we want to keep building on that in the final,” he expressed.
Assistant coach Alex Ambrose, who guided India to the SAFF U15 title in October, mentioned about a “lot of positives” to work with and hailed the determination and work ethic of his players over the last few months.
“Building up to the final the whole team is in good shape and we are focusing on certain areas. The team looks good on the pitch and there are a lot of positives to build on. As we move ahead, we want to keep on seeing the girls make progress,” Ambrose said.
“You can see that the girls are adapting to the ideas on the field. The thought has always been to do the right things better and consistently. We have increased the intensity of the game which is important when we play good teams. The girls have been pushing themselves continuously and have never looked tired — even after a tough session — which is a massive positive,” he added.
One of the key performers for India against Thailand was goalkeeper Manju Ganjhu. Goalkeeping coach Precious Dede, a former World Cupper and Olympian for Nigeria, hailed the “aggression” displayed by Manju.
“It was great to see the manner Manju played. She was very aggressive and I have always told the girls that to be a good keeper you need to be aggressive. They deserved the win and in the end they got it. It’s a big achievement to reach the final and was what each of us had been working towards,” she said.
“I have been here for around 20 days and already I can see that the players have improved. I am confident that they have put the 0-3 loss against Sweden out of their minds and after the win against Thailand, they will come out fighting in the final,” she added.
The final of the tournament will be held on December 19 at the Mumbai Football Arena from 5.30 p.m.