With India hosting the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup 2020 in less than a year's time, head coach Thomas Dennerby felt that playing against tough opponents will be right. He said that it will help in knowing where the team was placed and what needed to improve. India will face Sweden and Thailand -- both nations renowned for their prowess in women's football -- in the U-17 Women's Football Tournament 2019 in Mumbai from December 13-19.
"It is a very exciting time. It has been good to start learning about the players both on and off the pitch. So far from what I've seen, I can say that the girls are very good and have been working very hard. Of course, there are things we need to develop and work on -- and that is the reason we are here," Dennerby said on Monday.
Given the quality of the opposition side, Dennerby said the matches will be a "nice start" to understand where the team stands.
"We hope to have a good tournament. It is exciting to play friendlies against good opponents and it will be a nice start to see where we are at the moment. It will also tell us the areas of the game where we need to work on". As the 22-member Indian squad arrived in the city on Monday, the excitement and enthusiasm in the team were palpable -- with the tournaments set to record a number of firsts.
It is the first time India is hosting an international level tournament for girls at this level, and it will also mark this particular group's first appearance in the national team jersey on home soil, with the SAFF U-15 Women's title being annexed in Bhutan two months ago. This competition will also be a first for Thomas Dennerby as India Head Coach. Dennerby took charge of the side in November. The 60-year Swede has named his 22-member squad after watching the players in action at the Hero U-17 Women’s Championship in Kalyani, followed by a training camp in Goa.
The 60-year-old UEFA Pro Diploma holder comes with a rich experience of 30 years of coaching in which he guided Sweden Women’s National Team to a third-place finish in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011, and a quarterfinal spot in the 2012 London Olympics. His last assignment was with the Nigerian Senior Women’s National Team where he coached the Super Falcons in the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019. He also guided the Nigerian women to win the AWCON 2018 and was awarded the 2018 Coach of the Year in Nigeria.
The U17 Women's football tournament 2019 will see India, Sweden and Thailand play each other once in a round-robin format. The top two teams will qualify for the finals on December 19. The teams of Thailand and Sweden shall be arriving in Mumbai on Wednesday (December 11, 2019). All matches will be played at the Mumbai Football Arena, with the group-stage matches scheduled to kick-off at 6 pm. The final is slated to start at 5.30 pm.