14 years since last U-17 triumph, Brazil hopes to lift the silverware in Kolkata
Kolkata: Brazil Under-17 football team coach Carlos Amadeu wants to reclaim the Fifa U-17 World Cup title after a hiatus of 14 years at the majestic Saltlake Stadium in Kolkata on 28 October.
Having visited India and the revamped Saltlake Stadium during the World Cup draw, Amadeu said he dreams of lifting the glittering silverware at the venue. “I’ve heard about the football madness in Kolkata and I’ve been there. It is a huge stadium with a beautiful history. Since I was there I’m dreaming about the final. I wish we could get the trophy there,” Amadeu told PTI in an exclusive interview after arriving in Mumbai on Tuesday morning.
The U-17 World Cup title has eluded Brazil since 2003. Having won the title thrice in the past, the South American country is just behind title holders and four-time champions Nigeria, who have failed to qualify for the upcoming edition. Having done a solid job in the youth ranks at Vitoria, Amadeu took charge of the Brazil U-17 side in May 2015 in the lead-up to the U-17 World Cup in Chile that year, where he steered the team to the last eight before being eliminated by eventual champions Nigeria.
“I think that if you get the statistics of the U-17 World Cup, Africa are in front of South America and Europe. One of their countries always reach semi-finals,” he said. But Amadeu feels the competition will be tough this time around. “The European teams, USA and Mexico are really strong this year. There are too many teams fighting for the tittle,” he said.
Talking about Indian football, Amadeu had some words of advice for the host nation and said they can benefit from a football powerhouse like Brazil by way of exchange programmes. “Players from India have the bio-type to play football, they are fast and have a good technique. In a country of such a huge population, I’m sure India could build a beautiful history in football,” he said. “My advice is to watch closely countries like Brazil, who can bring professionals with know-how... Also, the Indian professionals should travel around the world and participate in exchange programmes,” he said.
The 52-year-old has put in well-designed hard work into practice for last two years, the result of which was evident in their dominant performance in the U-17 South American Championship in March. Latest Brazilian teenage sensation Vinicius Junior was the leading goal-scorer (with seven goals) and the player of the tournament as they won seven of their matches and drew the other two en route to the title. Brazil kept a clean slate in seven of their nine matches and pumped in more goals than any other side (24), while conceding fewer (three).
With his club Flamengo playing the final of the Copa do Brasil on 27 September, Vincius Jr will join the team later this month. “It’s the result of hard work, two years of preparation and a well-designed philosophy,” Amadeu said. “This has been our goal since we started to work for the national team. I hope we can continue playing this type of football and being competitive as well, though it’s not easy as other teams are studying us,” he said.
Brazil will spend a week in Mumbai before landing in Kochi, where they open their campaign against Spain on 7 October.