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To survive, India must make a point vs Colombia

New Delhi : After a spirited performance in their debut FIFA Under-17 World Cup match against the US, hosts India will lock horns with Colombia in their crucial Group A fixture at the Jawaharlal Nehru (JLN) stadium here tomorrow. Having lost their respective openers- India lost 0-3 to the US, and Colombia were beaten by two-time champions Ghana 0-1 – both the sides would be desperate to open their account. It’s going to take a Herculean effort from the hosts to upstage the 2009 edition semifinalists, who are making their sixth appearance in the tournament. With the anxiety and excitement of playing their first ever game in the World Cup hopefully over, India would look to come up with an improved showing in their second match. Against the USA, the Indians did look a little edgy, perhaps weighed down a little by the momentous occasion. There were of course flashes of brilliance from the hosts, especially from Komal Thatal, Ninthoinganba Meetei and goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh, but overall the skills and tactical knowledge weren’t good enough to frustrate a quality side like the USA.
‘Team will fight hard’
“The team will fight until the last minute and play with confidence to give Colombia a run for their money,” said India’s head coach Luis Norton de Matos on the eve of the crunch match. “Colombia are tough opponents, they can hurt us. Colombia will test us physically, too, but we are ready for it.
“The strength of the Indian team is its ability to play as a unit, and we are banking on it against Colombia,” said the 63-year-old Portuguese.
Changes in line-up
India have received a boost with the arrival of right-back Boris Thangjam, who missed the opener due to one-match suspension slapped on him during last year’s U-16 AFC Championships. Rahul KP is likely to make way for him; Rahim Ali and Nongdamba Naorem, too, could find their names on the starting list.
Matos said he’s not averse to changing the line-up as and when the need arose. “The team that will play against Colombia could be very different from the one that played against the USA. There’s a thinking to change the strategy and go for a certain formation,” said Matos. “We will give it our best shot as it is a do-or-die game for us.”
Colombia, like India, too, would be desperate for a win to keep their Round of 16 hopes alive. Against Ghana, the Colombian team enjoyed a fair share of ball possession, but the Black Starlets were the better side. In tomorrow’s match, they would look to exploit the inexperience of the hosts.

About Jatin Kamboj