NewDelhi: Luis Norton de Matos made no bones about it. The India coach was expecting a FIFA U-17 World Cup exit on Thursday. But it was his honest, tongue-in-cheek media address post the 4-0 defeat that earned admiration at the end of Indian football’s learning experience at the biggest stage.
Not often you hear the mention of ‘omelette’ and ‘bank robbery’ in a press conference – whatever the sport. But De Matos used these analogies to explain the whats and whys, leading to nods of admiration in a packed press conference at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
“Why didn’t you start with two strikers?” It was the last question but underlined the honesty and practicality with which De Matos went about his job in the tournament.
“Had I done that, we would have perhaps lost 7-0 or 8-0,” the Portuguese replied.
And he went on.
“I make my omelette with the eggs I have.”
India played its best match against Colombia, including India’s historic first ever goal in a FIFA World Cup by Jeakson Singh. But still lost 2-1.
In the first match, a penalty opened the gates for USA’s 3-0 win.
“Many people came to me after the USA match saying that it was a soft penalty. What’s a soft penalty? A bank robbery is a bank robbery. Similarly, a penalty is a penalty,” he said, refusing to accept any consolations.
He didn’t mince words in explaining what Indian football experienced over the past week, putting it ahead of anything happening in Indian football.
“This experience is stronger than the I-League. The ISL (Indian Super League) teams will lose to fourth-division teams in Spain,” he said grabbing further attention.
The gulf of difference between India and Ghana on Thursday was not just evident in the scoreline but also on the field.
The Indian team looked tired in the last ten minutes, almost waiting for the final whistle. In short, they looked exhausted, and De Matos mentioned it in his own unique way, though with a bit of exaggeration.
“Ghana can play eight games after this, but we can’t play another one right now,” De Matos replied to a question on the difference in fitness between the two teams.
“If this game was against Maldives, Nepal or Bhutan, it would have been fantastic,” he added.
“I knew we are going to suffer in the third game.”