We are aiming for quarter-finals berth: Thomas Dennerby

Clubbed with heavyweights USA, Brazil, hosts India may be one of the lowest rung sides in the upcoming Under-17 Women’s World Cup but coach Thomas Dennerby said his team is ready to give the stronger nations a run for its money with the target of last-eight finish.India will begin their campaign against the mighty USA on October 11, followed by Morocco and Brazil on October 14 and October 17 respectively at the Kalinga Stadium here.”Of course, we’re up against absolute top teams, but if we have a really good day and the teams have a little bit weaker outing, there’s always a chance for the team coming out like underdogs to win that game,” the 63-year-old told reporters in a virtual interaction ahead of the big meet.”If we can score an early goal against one of these teams, they may get a little bit nervous, get stressed and so on. There’s always a chance and if we get a chance we’ll take it.”The top two teams from each group will make the cut for the quarters and if their respective senior FIFA rankings are of any indication, then USA are the world no 1. Brazil are in top-10, while Morocco (76) are the only nation below the 58-ranked India in the senior women’s rankings.

“Of course, we want to be in the quarters, no doubt about that, and we are going to play with all our hearts. The way to do it is only by focusing on our performances.””For me, it’s not so much about results. We have to stick to our plan, stay calm to whatever the results (are). We are going to fight to take points from each and every opponent.”But first of all, we are focusing on our performances and hopefully good performances will also lead to points,” said the Swede, who took charge of the Blue Tigress in November 2019 with the focus on the U-17 WWC.

Counting high on the home support at the Kalinga Stadium here, he said: “We will have the supporters on our side. Hopefully a good number of spectators in the stands will help the team to really fight and fill that gap.”

“But in total, I am going to look at performances that we can perform at the top level. If our top level is enough to beat the USA or Brazil, it’s too early to say.””Most importantly, it’s about showing everyone who are looking at us with high expectations that we also have a really good team with a lot of young players who can perform at the highest level in the age group.”On his assessment of the side, Dennerby said the team has a solid organisational display with a strong defensive unit in Astam Oraon, Kajal, Naketa, Purnima Kumari, Varshika and Shilky Devi Hemam.In Nitu Linda, they have a deceptive mid-fielder who has a knack of finding good spaces and Dennerby said it’s a team with a strong defence with quick attacks.”I hope that you will see India with a really strong defence and well-organised team that it’s hard to score on.