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U-17 World Cup: Good-looking England up against Chile in high-voltage clash (Preview)

Kolkata, Oct 7 (IANS) England will look to take inspiration from their Under-20 side which won the World Cup earlier this year when they lock horns with South American heavyweights Chile in the FIFA U-17 World Cup Group F opener at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan here on Sunday.

England edged past Venezuela 1-0 in the final of the U-20 showpiece meet in June to win the title 51 years after the senior team triumphed in the World Cup.

At the U-17 event, England have not been that successful, qualifying just thrice before (2007, 2011, 2015) with a quarter-final in 2007 and 2011 being their best result.

Two years back, they exited ignominiously from the group stages in Chile.

But with the likes of Borussia Dortmund forward Jadon Sancho, Manchester United forward Angel Gomes and City midfielder Phil Foden in their ranks this time, on paper Steve Cooper’s current bunch looks formidable.

Carrying big expectations with them, the Young Lions are touted as one of the teams to watch out for in the tournament.

Although doubts remain whether Sancho, whom Chile defender Yerco Oyanedel described as the boy they are wary about, would stay on after the group stages with his club wanting him back with them after the international break, this squad has the desired experience to fall back on at this level.

“England are a very tough side to beat. We have studied each and every player’s videos and Sancho is one we need to guard against,” Oyanedel had said at the end of a practice session here.

Since arriving in the city on Tuesday, England have chosen to keep their tactical cards close to their chest, holding a couple of closed practice sessions.

Chile, on the contrary, have interacted the most with the media and been less secretive about their actions. The hosts of last edition’s meet qualified after a gap of 20 years.

The sultry weather conditions in this part of the world have been causing problems for coach Hernan Caputto’s boys, but the team management has ensured the players never get deydrated and are acclimatised well before they take the field.

This will be Chile’s fourth appearance at a FIFA U-17 World Cup and their second in a row after hosting the tournament in 2015.

Their tournament debut came at Japan in 1993, where they took everyone by surprise finishing third, their best performance to date.

Knocked out in the group phase in Egypt 1997, the Chileans reached the last 16 on home soil two years ago.

Both England and Chile finished runners-up in their respective continental qualifiers to make the cut for this meet. While England lost to Spain in the U-17 European Championships earlier this year, Chile were hammered by Brazil 0-5 in the South American U-17 competition.

The two teams have never met before at an U-17 World Cup.

Squads:

England: Curtis Anderson, Josef Bursik, William Crelin; Timothy Eyoma, Joel Latibeaudiere, Marc Guehi, Jonathan Panzo, Lewis Gibson, Steven Sessegnon, Morgan Gibbs White, Tashan Oakley Boothe; Conor Gallagher, Angel Gomes, Nya Kirby, George McEachran; Jadon Sancho, Callum Hudson Odoi, Philip Foden, Emile Smith Rowe, Rhian Brewster, Danny Loader

Chile: Julio Borquez, Rodrigo Cancino, Hugo Araya; Gaston Zuniga, Matias Silva, Lucas Alarcon, Sebastian Valencia, Yerco Oyanedel, Nicolas Aravena; Martin Lara, Mauricio Morales, Oliver Rojas, Branco Provoste, Maximiliano Guerrero; William Gama, Ignacio Contreras, Ignacio Mesias, Diego Valencia, Jairo Vasquez, Pedro Campos, Antonio Diaz O’Higgins.

–IANS
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