Mumbai: The excitement around the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 dampened on Friday after it was confirmed that Brazil prodigy and Real Madrid-bound Vinicius Junior would no longer be a part of India’s annual FIFA tournament.
However, doubts are also looming over another wonderkid - England forward Jadon Sancho's participation in the mega event. Sancho, who made a switch from Manchester City to Borussia Dortmund on transfer deadline day is at the centre of a tug-of-war between the Bundesliga giants and the FA.
Steve Bosz’s side is attempting to block the FA’s proposal to bring the explosive winger to India after he was initially named in the 21-member England squad. But for England coach Steve Cooper, the focus is currently on the team and not on star-studded individuals.
"We're working closely with Dortmund and comfortable that Sancho will play a part in the World Cup. We're focused on the team and the players. That’s always the priority. It's not about individuals, not about self-glory and in the end well always play as a team," Cooper told reporters after England's win over New Zealand in a practice game on Sunday at the Mumbai Football Arena.
The All Whites were no match for the opposition in the first half, who dominated possession and created a plethora of chances as the game was tied up 1-1 at the halftime break.
The Young Lions soon played their trump card, bringing in fresh legs and tweaking the formation. Led by Liverpool starlet Rhian Brewster, who bagged a brace in quick succession, the Euro U-17 finalists ended the game with a scoreline of 3-2.
"We showed a lot of character and made a few changes that affected the rhythm of the game. Our boys tried many things in the second half, playing different formations and linking up. It's difficult as a sub to come on, make a difference and to get into the rhythm of the game. But our substitutions had a vital impact,” Cooper explained.
We need to be mentally tough
New Zealand coach Danny Hay stated that complacency and sharpness in front of goal cost his boys the game.
"We are realistic enough to know the quality of opposition were gonna come up against and that we would not see the ball as much as we like.
"Our players worked really hard off the ball, but they need to work equally hard when they get the ball. We got to learn when we get that half opportunity against top sides and need to punish teams,“ the Kiwi coach said.
Similar to the game against Brazil, the All Whites were in a pole position to sneak a draw but failed to capitalize on their chances.
"It is frustrating but that’s going to be something the players learn from. Our mentality has got to be super strong, we cant switch off for a second. When we scored again, we thought we were back again but we got hit again. But we did give Brazil and England two tough games.
On paper, we might not appear strong but we are organized, we work hard and when we do take our chances when were get them,“ Hay signed off....