As rare as it gets: India play mighty Brazil

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Bhubaneswar:┬áIt doesn’t happen that often. But an Indian football team will get a rare opportunity to rub shoulders with the mighty Brazil, in the FIFA Women’s U-17 World Cup here on Monday.

Hosts India are already out of reckoning for a place in the knockouts but there is no doubting the fact that their last match of the tournament will be a huge learning experience as the South American powerhouse is on a different level in world football.

Hosts India conceded three goals in the second half to suffer a humiliating 0-3 defeat to Morocco in their second Group A match and crash out of the tournament on Friday.

After the back-to-back defeats against Morocco and the USA, who smashed them 8-0 in their opener, India head coach Thomas Dennerby concluded that the team is not up to the mark technically.

He wants his girls to be more confident with the ball while building their attacks when they play Brazil in their final match.

“When we have the ball, we need to feel relaxed and start playing. We need to be confident and play a little bit more. Now, we have nothing to lose. I hope the girls start playing freely,” said Dennerby on the eve of the match.

In the latest FIFA rankings released early this week, Brazil’s senior girls are placed ninth.

Dennerby is very much aware of Brazil’s reputation, but at the same time, he thinks his wards are capable of proving themselves on the pitch.

“We have to focus very hard on defending, but we also know football is not only about defending. It would be nice for us to score in the tournament,” he said.

“Brazil are a good team. And we also know that Brazil are fighting to ensure their place in the knockout stage. So, I think they are going to come out with all guns blazing,” the coach added.

The Indian girls, Dennerby said, are ready to play for their honour against Brazil.

“We will fight and try to score a goal. It would be nice to come out of this tournament with a goal,” he said.

“We have worked on the final crucial pass the actions around the opponents’ box. That is also the hardest part in football–to learn exactly how to handle that kind of situation.”

“The girls need to have a better understanding of decision making – we also have to work a little bit with the skills in those crucial moments, because in the end the result of all games are decided in the two boxes,” the Swedish coach said.

India’s senior national women’s team had played against Brazil last November and lost 1-6. The coach feels there are similarities in playing style between Brazil’s seniors and juniors.

“The playing style of this team is similar. Of course, they are not that skilful yet, but it is normal when you are 17. I will say it’s even tougher to play against the youth team because, in a senior team, you have the best players from your country.

“When you play the age group, you have to pick up players from a particular age group only,” he said.

“Back in Brazil, they start playing football from a very early age which is a huge advantage. But hopefully, we can show them tomorrow that we have a good starting eleven also in India,” the coach quipped.

Shilky Devi, who was used as a substitute in the senior team’s match against Brazil, said: “I know how strong Brazil are their fitness level and the way they attack. I was lucky enough to get the chance to play against them for some time and it was a huge learning experience for me.

“Their speed, their passing accuracy and the quick decisions they make were things that I observed during that match.