There Is No Pressure On Us, Says Coach Denia

Wednesday, 25 October 2017|Media Release
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Spain, who outclassed Iran comprehensively in the Quarter-Finals are aware of the ‘physical game’ employed by Mali in the Semi-Final tomorrow (October 25, 2017) as they prepare to enter their 4th final in the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

“We know that we play against a team who has a very physical game, but we will continue to play like we have been playing throughout the tournament. I don’t think there will be any advantage of disadvantage because of physicality”, Spain U-17 Head Coach Santiago Denia said during the pre-match press conference held at the DY Patil Stadium.

Having qualified after a gap of eight years, Spain came into the tournament as reigning European Champions although they are yet to taste the joy of winning the tournament having secured three runners-up finishes and a couple of third-place finishes in the nine times they have qualified.

Thus, there might be added pressure to perform and prove themselves. But Denia was quick to dismiss the thought. “There is no pressure on us. The coaching staff or the players or the Federation is under no pressure. Of course we want to win but it is more about the challenge that lies ahead of us”, he said.

The coach rather felt at home describing the tournament more like a European affair from now on, “This tournament is now like a European tournament where most teams play similar. Our game plan has been adaptive in every match. Little adjustments have been made in both the offence and the defence and this game will not be any different.”

Paying homage to his opponents Mali, who coincidentally have had the most shots on goal as well are currently the joint top scorers in the tournament along with co-semi-finalist England and eliminated European giants France, Denia said he expects quite an open affair between the two teams.

“I honestly don’t believe Mali is going to play a transitional game. I expect them to be on the ball and use the wings. I believe they will play good football and that’s why they are in the semi-final.”

Santiago also dispelled any adjustment problems due to the prevalent weather conditions in India, “The weather is something we cannot control. We knew if we advance in the tournament we would adjust. It is the job of the medical staff to ensure proper recovery and rest and I think they have done a good job.”

Asked whether any moment in during the tournament made his team rise up to the challenge, he quickly pointed to the defeat against Brazil. “By losing to Brazil we quickly realised we had to get better and that is the part of coaching staffs job and that is what we have been doing and expect to do tomorrow.”

The 2nd Semi Final encounter of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 kicks-off at 8.00pm IST.