BHUBANESWAR: India's campaign at the historic FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup 2022 drew to a close on Monday after a defeat against Brazil.
Despite the loss, the determination and grit displayed by the Indian side and the charged atmosphere at the Kalinga Stadium made the match a truly memorable occasion.
After the match, we sat down for a chat with India head coach Thomas Dennerby, the highly-experienced Swede, who shared his thoughts on a number of topics, such as his takeaways from the team's performances, the progress made by the side and the incredible fan support, among other things.
"First of all, we came here with the aim to be the first Indian team to take points in a FIFA World Cup and we couldn't do that. Of course, if you come to see it that way, we didn't reach all the way that we aimed for with the team. However, I'm still proud of the girls because our performances have been better with each and every game and I think after the match against Brazil, most Indians also should be proud of the team because they were really, really fighting and also showed good combination play in a couple of situations. Definitely, we are on the right way," AIFF quoted Dennerby as saying.
Talking about his takeaways from these performances of the Indian team, Dennerby said, "I think that in general, we can defend very well. We were defending in an organized way and we were disciplined for most of the time during the 90 minutes. Sometimes, we made some small mistakes and if we do that against top-level teams, they will hurt us and that is a lesson we need to learn. It is not something you can learn in the classroom."
"You need to learn it on the field -- to have your head cool all the time, so you don't do such small mistakes because of stress or you think that you have less time than you actually have.
It would be wrong to blame the girls as they were always fighting and doing the best they could. I'm so happy also to see that the fitness level of the team was very good because we were never tired," India coach said.
"Firstly, when you're more relaxed, you play better. You have to believe in yourself, and your strengths and you have to use them to your advantage. I think we should take away what I already said -- the good fitness level, that we were ready to take on anything when it comes to endurance levels, speed, number of sprints, repeated sprints -- that was not a problem at all for us," India head coach further stated.
"Those are good but of course, one thing that we can work with is the attacking game in the offensive third, which includes around the opponent's box, the final pass, composure in finishing, taking the right decision to pass the ball at the right moment and give it to forward players on the run, but that takes time. It's easier to organize the defence and come into the small details of the attacking game. I'm still proud of the girls. They really tried," he added.