FIFA Under 17 World Cup: Indian coach Thomas Dennerby happy with the roadmap
The newly-appointed Under 17 coach feels 350 sessions in 300 days should be enough for the girls to be ready for the FIFA Under 17 World Cup
Indian under 17 girls team coach Thomas Dennerby is happy with the plan All Indian Football Federation (AIFF) has charted out for the team preparing for the FIFA Under 17 World Cup. The experienced coach from Sweden, who has worked with senior women's teams of Sweden and Nigeria at the FIFA Women's World Cup, Olympic Games, European and African Championships, is confident his team's ability to mount a challenge in the World Cup which India will host. The India U17 women's team is currently in Mumbai, along with Sweden and Thailand competing in the U17 Women's Football Tournament 2019, which is also Dennerby's first taste of international-level action since his appointment as the Indian head coach.
In a chat with AIFF, the Coach spoke at length about the "thrilling” road ahead, his thoughts on the players, the support staff he has brought in, the anticipated challenge, and much more.
Excerpts from the interview:
What prompted you to move to India after working in Sweden and Nigeria?
As compared to the previous places where everything is already developed coming to India is thrilling and challenging. If we can do something good with this team it will be something new for this country. To help a country like India to have a successful World Cup would be very exciting.
Do you feel you have sufficient time?
It's an opportunity to work with this team for a long time. We have like 300 days and have 350 sessions or more. Normally as a head coach, you usually get the senior team players on the international dates -- 60-80 days in a year and a lot depends on how far you can go in major tournaments. Here, you have around four times of that. So I hope we have a really good chance to develop the team and have a good tournament. It's a thrilling challenge and the main reason for all of us to come here.
What are your thoughts on the Indian players -- in terms of their mental and physical attributes?
The mental part is one of the things we need to work. The girls haven’t played a championship before. Whatever you do the first game of the World Cup will be the first for these girls and we can't change that.
Will playing at home be an extra pressure on the girls?
Pressure would be if I would have asked them to sing in a concert in front of 30000 people because that’s an act which then haven’t ever done. But they are footballers, and you are probably best in playing football. You have other people around you to guide you and pick you -- they won't pick you if you're not ready for it. If you are good enough to be picked, you are good enough to handle the situation.
How do the girls need to react?
It is extremely important to work hard on fitness levels. It is important that you feel strong in the player's tunnel and feel that you are ready with all that training behind you. I hope to see the test results keep getting better by October next year and it will show the players that they are physically, technically and mentally ready.
Please tell us about the staff you have brought in -- Precious Dede and Per Karlsson. What qualities made you add them to the team?
Precious Dede was with me in Nigeria for a while and of course, she's experienced having 99 caps for Nigeria which includes three World Cups and multiple Olympic Games. However, that was not the primary reason to bring her. It was the fact that she is a really good goalkeeping coach. She has a good plan and works hard. When you work with young players, it's important you have a good personality and are a good role model. I think it's easier for a girl to adapt with a girl and to aspire to reach that level. She is working very hard with them in training and we can already see improvement.
Per Karlsson was also with the Nigerian team. He was a hammer throw athlete, who could throw over 75 metres. He is very strong and he has been working with things such as endurance training for track & field athletes, football, hockey, etc. When I brought him here, he was like a teacher in for track & field athletes. He has worked a lot with players between 15-17 years of age and that is very important because if you have worked only with seniors, your expectations can be high.