Germany and Costa Rica play the Group C opener of the FIFA U-17 World Cup at the Nehru stadium in Fatorda today and the result could well be an indicator which team from amongst the two ends up winner of the group. Iran plays Guinea in the second match of the evening.
Germany, Costa Rica, Iran and Guinea have all been practising in the various practice grounds in Goa and from the four – based purely on watching their practise sessions- Germany and Costa Rica appear to have a slight edge over their rivals- an edge that is unpredictable and one that makes football worth spending time watching.
Germany was the first to arrive and have got an edge over the feel of the weather in Goa over their rivals. Germany is enjoying world domination in football today in all age groups and appears to have come well prepared to add this tile into the cabinet.
The Under -17 German players are shaping into the German style of play-fast, accurate and powerful. The players bond well and most of their practise was centered on loosening up and adjusting to a different environment.
The Germans showed more maturity in their approach to the ball and have a physical advantage over most of the other members of their group.
Costa Rica , on the other hand , will tend to slow their opponents with their sleek style of football , quick short passing and nice long curlers that on any day could fox any goalkeeper. Their style is more South American- where emphasis is on entertaining with ball possession- and this could well kill the steam of Germany.
The football demonstrated by the Costa Rican will endear more to fans from Goa .They start with short passes and switch to the long ball when switching the game and that do that very often. They use the centre to switch wings and a few of their players have demonstrated a penchant to take long shots at goals – sometimes from almost zero angles.
Many of their players are versatile using both feet- for short passes and long balls and this could be a dampener to Germany’s plans.
Both have good goalkeepers and perhaps the power and unpredictability could be the tools that will need to be used to beat both goalkeepers.
Iran did not get much support during the Under -16 AFC Cup because India were the hosts and thus ate away whatever they could from the crowds. The story is different now with India playing in New Delhi and Iran being the Asian flavour in Goa.
The team has progressed substantially since they last played in Goa and whether there is support or not , they seem to have walked the extra mile to ready themselves for this stage. The co-ordination and understanding between players is showing a lot of improvement and the boys do not appear to be physically beaten by their rivals.
How Iran reacts to European or South American flavour is something that will be worth waiting for.
The second match today between Iran and Guinea will witness powerhouses of two continents trying to show that age or physique does not play much in football. What does is the control over the ball and how it is used to fox opponents.
Guinea has the youngest player in the team in fifteen year old Ibrahima and there are two others within the same age group. It is not clear whether they would be in the starting eleven or not. However, what coach Camara said is worth remembering: “ The players are in the team not because of their age but because they are the best in this age group.”
Quite a few Costa Ricans are tall but the rest have shown to be the type not to be intimated by physical appearances. They appear to be of the types who have their own ways to hinder their opponents and seemed prepared to fox all with their plans. Guinea was one team that did not give much access to the public or the media.
Football is, like most sports, beautiful because it is unpredictable. Sat the end of ninety minutes any team can win and any team can win the group. However, what can be said from watching most practise sessions is – football fans in Goa are set for a quality of football never seen before.