Mumbai, The U-17 women’s football tournament will kick-off at the Mumbai Football Arena on Friday as India take on Sweden. The match will mark India U-17 head coach Thomas Dennerby’s debut on the touchline since his appointment in November.
Ahead of the opener, he spoke about his expectations from the encounter and the tournament as a whole.
“This will be the first match-experience against another country for the team since my arrival. I am hoping to see that the players can produce on the pitch the things that we have been working on in training such as formation, movement etc. We have to make sure that we plan well for the games and that the players are actively looking to do the right things on the field,” Dennerby said.
Sweden U-17 head coach Pär Lagerström spoke about Friday’s game as well and said that he is looking forward to it, especially given the fact that Dennerby has coached in Sweden for a number of years.
“Of course, Thomas (Dennerby) knows the Sweden way to play extremely well but still I think it’s the players that will play. We’ll see what happens tomorrow and we’re looking forward to the game,” he said.
When asked about what he made of the Indian team, he said: “I have not seen them play before and would like to have a better view of the team. After the tournament, I definitely will. I have talked to Thomas and he said that India has very technical players — fast and different types of players. So we’ll see.”
Prior to this competition, the team had been training in Goa. Dennerby shared his thoughts on what he has seen so far and stated that most players are “doing very good”.
He expressed: “If you look at the technical skills of the players, in general, most of them are doing very good. Some of them have really good touch of the ball, they have good short passing skills and even long passing.
“If we look at the fitness levels – we probably have a little job to do and we have a good fitness coach taking care of that in the form of Per Karlsson. When goalkeepers are younger they need good support and training as it is the toughest position in the team. In that respect, it is good to have Precious Dede here with all her experience and the championships she has in her bag,” he continued.
Dennerby also spoke about the style of football he wants to inculcate in the team and stressed on the importance of having a passing game.
He said: “I want us to be more open offensively and very strict defensively. I want us to have a good passing game where the players know which spaces to come into, where you want to attack and when to play the crucial passes. In defence, you have to play as a unit and you have to be compact in order to keep the opposition away from the scoring zones.”
A total of 22 players have been picked by Dennerby for the competition, which is being contested with one eye on next year’s FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup. The Swede added that the door is open for new players as well.
“We are trying to find more players as well and the federation already has a couple of scouts going around. There will be four new girls in the next camp after the new year. If there are more good players, we will call them to the camp and give them a chance. However, I’m sure it will be tough as this current group works really hard,” he said.