Mumbai: Swede Thomas Dennerby will make his debut as India U-17 women’s football team head coach when the hosts take on Sweden in the opening match of the three-nation international tournament here Friday.
This will be the first international tournament to be held in India at the U-17 level for women and it’s being held as a part of preparations for next year’s FIFA U-17 World Cup to be held in the country.
The tournament is being held under UEFA Assist in collaboration with the Asian Football Confederation. UEFA Assist is an international programme of the European football governing body that addresses the needs of national associations and confederations outside that continent.
Dennerby said he was happy with the preparations and progress of the players since he took charge of the team.
“This will be the first match-experience against another country for the team since my arrival. I am hoping to see that the players can produce on the pitch the things that we have been working on in training such as formation, movement etc. We have to make sure that we plan well for the games and that the players do the right things on the field,” he said ahead of the match.
Prior to this competition, the team was training in Goa under the Swede who found his players having good technical skills.
“If you look at the technical skills of the players, in general, most of them are doing very good. Some of them have really good touch of the ball, they have good short passing skills and even long passing.
“If we look at the fitness levels, we probably have a little job to do and we have a good fitness coach taking care of that in the form of Per Karlsson. When goalkeepers are younger they need good support and training… it is good to have Precious Dede here with all her experience and the championships she has in her bag,” he said.
Dennerby also spoke about the style of football he wants to inculcate in the team and stressed on the importance of having a passing game.
“I want us to be more open offensively and very strict defensively. I want to have a good passing game where the players know which spaces to come into, where you want to attack and when to play the crucial passes. In defence, you have to play as a unit and you have to be compact in order to keep the opposition away from the scoring zones.”
Dennerby picked a 22-member squad for the competition but he said that the door is open for new players as well.
“We are trying to find more players and the federation already has a couple of scouts going around. There will be four new girls in the next camp after the new year. If there are more good players, we will call them to the camp and give them a chance. However, I’m sure it will be tough as this current group works really hard,” he said.
Sweden U-17 head coach Par Lagerstrom said he’s looking forward to Friday’s match, especially given the fact that Dennerby has coached in Sweden for a number of years.
“Of course, Thomas (Dennerby) knows the Sweden way to play extremely well but still I think it’s the players that will play. We’ll see what happens tomorrow and we’re looking forward to the game,” he said.
Asked about the Indian team, he said, “I have not seen them play before and would like to have a better view of the team. After the tournament, I definitely will. I have talked to Thomas and he said that India has very technical players — fast and different types of players. So we’ll see.”