With the 2020 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup all set to kick-off in India in November, the Indian U-17 Women’s Team as part of their preparation have travelled to Turkey where they play two Friendly matches against the Romanian U-17 Women’s National Team. In an interview, Head Coach Thomas Dennerby speaks at length about the girls’ capability of “playing the game at a higher pace”, the change in formation, the significance of playing different styles, about his “girls being a bit too much friendly on the pitch”, and much more.
What changes have you implemented in the squad in 2020?
It’s for all to see that with every given day, the game is getting quicker and quicker. We are trying to implement a quicker passing game with lesser touches on the ball, and more running. We are making a sincere effort to play at a higher pace.
Will we see any changes in the formation?
We are trying to put in a new formation – the 4-2-3-1. If you look at the profile of the players we have, I feel it suits us very well. We have played some games amongst ourselves but the real test is to test it at the International level. To do that will be a very significant test for us.
With some less than 9 months away for the World Cup, how are the girls shaping up?
The girls are much fitter now, and are quite adept in playing at a higher pace. The good thing is that the gap between the best players and the rest, both in terms of technical acumen, and physical prowess is getting closer.
What does that mean?
That is a very positive sign for any coach. Currently there is a big fight – a healthy competition among the players for slots in the team. As a result, the team is benefiting, Indian Football is benefiting. The most significant part stays that when someone gets into a better shape, it forces the others to pull up their socks too and shape up too.
How are you approaching the forthcoming exposure tour to Turkey?
It’s the perfect time to enact some changes. The stage is set to develop more players, and surely we won’t just play 11 players during the tour. We need to be more specific in coaching as much as we need to be bit more sharper in coaching, as we know a bit more about the players.
What lessons do you expect the girls to learn from the matches against Romania?
At times I feel our girls are a bit too friendly on the pitch (smiles). Romania are a technical side who are also very physical. That will be a huge lesson for our girls as to how to combat teams who are willing to use their bodies, physical presence and tough tackles. It will help them mature playing against a new style. After all they are preparing for the U-17 Women’s World Cup.
The AIFF and the Sports Authority of India have been helping the girls to get exposure tours. What do you make of the plan?
We are really grateful to the Federation and the Sports Authority of India for their continuous support and providing us the opportunity. These exposure tours will help us develop as a team. Off course, you will try to develop during training. But a competitive International match is a unique experience for the girls – the kind of which they require to understand what top level football is all about.