New Delhi: India put up a valiant fight and also scored their first-ever goal in the FIFA U-17 World Cup in their 1-2 defeat against Colombia but coach Luis Norton de Matos today said that his side could have won the match had the goalpost not denied them in the first session. Rahul Kannoly’s left-footed volley beat the Colombian goalkeeper but the goalpost came in the way and both sides went into the half time goal-less. de Matos rued that the outcome of the Group A match could have been different had India gone up 1-0 at the breather.
“It is a pity that the ball hit the post and we did not score. Had we scored a goal, we would have been 1-0 up and the outcome of this match could have been different. I think I will sleep well today,” de Matos said at the post-match press conference. “In the first match against USA also (in which India lost 0-3), the ball hit the post and on the counter they (USA) scored. That match would been 2-1 (in favour of USA) and in today’s match the result would have been different. We could have won or at least it would have been 2-2,” he added.
The Portuguese tactician, who looked like a relieved man after India’s performance, said that it was the inexperience of the Indian players that led to conceding the second goal of Colombia within minutes of India restoring parity. “It (the goal of Colombia) happened within minutes of our
goal (through Jeakson Singh). Had our players settled down for three-four minutes, the goal would not have been there. It was due to the inexperience of the players,” the coach said. Talking about the performance of his players, de Matos said, “We have shown that we can compete at this stage and can even give a team like Colombia a close fight. We have been preparing for all these months to prove that India can also play at this level. This team has a great future.”
Asked what is the biggest strength of this team, he said, “We are very strong in our organisation. Our players have a lot of concentration even though the technical level may be different from the other teams.” “The only issue is in the offensive which is the most difficult aspect in football. We have to improve in this aspect of transition from defence to being offensive.”