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India face African challenge

12 October 2017

The US lead the group with six wins, while Ghana and Colombia have three points each. And the next game for us is to confirm our progression from how we played against the United States and then Colombia. Mathematically, yes. India have a goal difference (GD) of -4 while Colombia and Ghana have zero.

"We have the utmost respect for our opponents [Ghana] but we will give them a very tough fight, even tougher than we gave Colombia", captain Amarjit Singh said.

Infact the Luis Norton de Matos' side had quite a few chances to score before the eventual equaliser arrived in the 82nd minute. No doubt, the two-time former champions Ghana will start as clear favourites in tomorrow's final Group A match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Emotional outburst disturbed the team's shape at the back and Colombia's Juan Penaloza made India suffer nearly immediately. Till last Thursday, the debate centred on the number of goals India would concede. All in all, teams will be looking to end their final group fixtures on a high.

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Understandably, he had to devise a defensive gameplan and banking on counter-attacks through quick transition to offensive mode. Coach Samuel Fabin said: "The players know that they are being watched". Febin says his side has been working on finishing in each of their practice sessions and holds out hope that his side will sort out their bogey on Thursday evening. Maintaining the shape in a well-organized formation has been pivotal to his tactics. Their two full backs - left (Najeeb Yakubu) and right (Rashid Alhassan) are very fast and they come out to support the attack.

De Matos is likely to continue with the same strategy against Ghana tomorrow. To me, the team is a dark horse, but I'm proud to see them compete against teams that have had so many more advantages in terms of advanced training, equipment and exposure.

Penaloza broke the deadlock for Colombia in the second half, running into space and sending a curling ball inches above Indian goalkeeper Dheeraj Moirangthem to the far corner.

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But, Indian can still progress to next round with some help from other teams. Bengaluru is not playing host to the tournament but is keenly following the fortunes of the top teams in the fray, and of debutants India.K.Sudhir, an IT systems specialist spends much of his commute, following the U-17 football action on his phone.

The defence saw Boris Thangjam returning to the starting XI.

Jeakson Singh scored India's first goal in FIFA World Cup. De Matos has a lot of options in the midfield as he has packed the squad with players who can play in these positions. It goes without saying that the African U-17 runners-up will be their hardest challenge so far.

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Ghana, who beat Colombia but lost to U.S., would be looking for a win to be assured of an automatic slot in the round of 16 as that will ensure them a top two finish in the group.

India face African challenge