South American flair meets European prowess as Kolkata gears up for biggest game of FIFA U-17 World Cup

first_imgInsuppressible happiness reflected on England coach Steve Cooper’s face as he settled down for the pre-match press conference here on Wednesday.With a grin as big as the football field, Cooper’s delight to the semi-final against Brazil in the FIFA U-17 World Cup today being shifted to Kolkata was evident the very first minute.”Well, I didn’t think it would be this early. When we told the boys we are heading back to Kolkata, they were excited to be back. Good to have so many familiar faces. It’s kind of an advantage for us, but nevertheless it will be a positive experience if we win in our fifth game here,” said Cooper.Having played all three of their group stage games and a round of 16 fixture against Japan here at the iconic Salt Lake stadium, England enter as a confident bunch of youngsters in contrast to their South American counterparts, who, by no means, should be taken lightly.The last-minute shift of venue from Guwahati, owing to poor pitch conditions, may have disrupted a bunch of spectators but from competition point of view, no other stadium could have done justice to this continental clash.In less than a day of the reshuffle, the tickets were sold out in no time whereas flock in hundreds fought tooth and nail at the ticket counter outside the stadium last night, hoping to witness this cracker of a match.”When we reached Guwahati, we were told about the pitch conditions and that the match was rescheduled to Kolkata. To be honest, we couldn’t be happier. I would prefer playing here, we played Germany (in quarter-finals) and it was a good game. We were also delighted by the support fans here showed for us and we expect the same for our next match,” said Brazil head Carlos Amadeu.advertisementOn paper, the match looks a balanced affair.Where England boasts of an attacking prowess in Jadon Sancho and Angel Gomes, the Brazilian side has an equal competition in Lincoln and Paulinho. The duo shares nine goals between them so far in the tournament.However, what comes as a slight advantage for the Samba Boys is their defence. The team has only conceded two goals in the tournament, with comprehensive wins against two European teams – Spain and Germany, not to be forgotten.As midfielder Victor Bobsin rightly points out, the team has handled the pressure well and the organised defensive play has worked well for Brazil.”We have been affective in defence. We have played an organised game and I am happy we pulled off some good results. I expect a difficult game against England and expect their attackers to be strong and aggressive in their approach,” said the defensive midfielder.For the England boss, though, plans to crack open the defense wall are already put in place.”I think it’s going to be a magnificent game. It will be the biggest game for all of us and we would like to leave our mark. We are aware of the threat Brazil possesses and how strong they are at the back. We have plans for that and I am quite confident the boys are up for the task,” he said.Be it Brazil or England to book a berth in the final reckoning couple of days from now, fans here can be sure of some exquisite skills on display in this football-crazy city.last_img

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