FIFA head of player development impressed with the U17 national team of India

Branimir Ujevic
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India had won the hearts of its citizens despite exiting the group stages of the competition without any points on the board. They put up a really impressive show to admire in a group which contained powers like USA, Colombia and Ghana. FIFA head of coaching and player development Branimir Ujhevic certainly thinks that the tournament was a great inspiration to the young blue tigers.

India were flunged open in the 3-0 defeat to USA on the opening day of the U17 world cup. They recovered wisely from that and put up a good fight against Colombia also scoring their first goal in the tournament. But then their hopes was shattered by the instant winner after the die goal in 2-1 loss. The last group game was a do or die situation but no hasty precautions caused them to be shattered by a physical Ghana side in 4-0 heart break.

Some of them supported the view that the tournament was a great inspiration to the young team of India as it was provoked the development of Indian football. Branimir was one of them. He urged the U17 team to rectify their mistakes and look forward in the future.

Adaptive game in the first match but they were amazing against Colombia. They were very organised, tactically and physically well-prepared,” Ujevic told reporters in a group league review news conference at the Salt lake stadium.

“They created a few scoring chances and were so enthusiastic and emotional jumping in joy after scoring the goal that they forgot to protect the goal in the next Colombian attack.

“Atmosphere was incredible. I hope they will learn a lot from this type of games otherwise it’s difficult to take a look into the future.”

“I give credit to the Indian people. For some games while going to stadium, I felt like I’m coming to Santiago, Old Trafford because of so many enthusiastic people who really enjoy football,” he added.

Ujevic was particularly impressed with India’s only goalscorer Jeakson Singh and custodian Dheeraj Singh who was outstanding with his bold saves under the bar.

“In Indian team, you have two very nice midfield players and also the goalkeeper. The guy (Jeakson) who is just 16 years old and put his footprint in history of Indian football with his first ever goal for India. He’s only 16 and that would stay  in history books forever.

“This was the best possible learning tool for India U-17 team. Obviously, physically and tactically, they were well prepared with the big influence of Indian coach.”

“Talking about individual approach, there were over excitement during games… There’s a lot of space to improve. They deserve this World Cup. They really showed a great commitment.”

In his first FIFA tournament as head of technical study group, Ujevic said: “It’s obvious from the group stage that teams had come well prepared. Teams showed different styles of play, depending on their confederation.

“Based on technical aspects, we could say the best 16 teams qualified for knock-out round. It would really be interesting to see how they’re prepared for the knockout stage. It’s a very very interesting line-up in round 16.”

“In general, there has been a plenty of enjoyable matches during group stage. It’s really fantastic football atmosphere, outstanding individual players,” he said summing up his experience so far.

He also gave credit to the coaches and refused to elaborate much on the negative sides, saying such things were normal in a developmental tournaments.

“The technical stuff they adapted going ahead was interesting. They were doing some interesting changes during the games. As tournament goes to the final round I hope it will be much more better and excitement.”

“You have always some positive and non-positive impacts in a development tournament. Here you’re talking about 16-year-old boys… They were doing some amazing things as well as incredible individual mistakes, it’s all part of the development.

“We should give them an opportunity to grow as footballers. We have to arrange everything for the next tournament and make them ready for future,” he concluded.