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We will never class ourselves as favourites: Cooper

Kolkata, Oct 27 (IANS) Not withstanding his sides all-win record and spectacular display in the ongoing Under-17 FIFA World Cup, England coach Steve Cooper does not consider his team as “favourites” for the final against Spain on Saturday.

Cooper says the boys have left behind the anguish of the UEFA European championships title round defeat earlier this year.

“We will never class ourselves favourites. It doesn’t suit our mentality. We are humble, respectful of the opposition. We treat every opposition with the same respect, same focus,” Cooper said.

“It’s flattering if anybody thinks we are favourites. But we are not going to get carried away. We won’t be complacent,

“And definitely not against Spain,” he added, referring to the loss to Spain on penalties in the UEFA European tourney final in May.

However, he emphasised that the European championship defeat was now a distant memory and said: “We are only looking forward, not looking back.”

Expressing happiness over the performance of his charges so far, he said the emphatic victories against USA in the quarter final and Brazil in the semis had not come off easily.

“The wins were not easy. US, Brazil are two strong teams. It was a big achievement. Brazil was a massive test,” the 37-year-old said.

Describing Spain as an amazing team, he said England were aware of their rivals’ strength.

“They have been a very good team throughout the competition. We respect them. We know where their strengths lie,” the England U-17 coach said.

He said his boys were enjoying their time in India, especially Kolkata.

“There is always pressure around a World Cup. We don’t feel the pressure as we are thriving, embracing every moment,” Cooper said.

Including Saturday’s final, England would play six of their seven games in the tournament at the Vievekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan, and Cooper said they were excited to play the final at the same venue.

“Pleased to be back here. It is a magnificent stadium. We have enjoyed every minute of our stay in India, particularly in Kolkata. To think the final is also being played in this stadium is something to be excited about,” Cooper said.

Cooper said his team was game if the final was decided on penalties.

“Penalty is a part of modern football. All you can do is to prepare a plan and wait for it to happen. If it so happens tomorrow, we are game,” the former defender said.

England has had a fine run in 2017 when they won the Under-20 World Cup as also the Under-19 European Championships.

Cooper said it would be an ‘amazing achievement’ to add the under-17 World Cup trophy t the Under-20 triumph.

“To think that we would be the holders of two developmental World Cups would be an amazing achievement.

“It’s also a great recognition for what is going on with youth academies and the England teams. I take great pride in that and just really hope that we can see this through.

“When we get back on the plane, the players and the staff will be better for the experience and allowing us to continue on that development journey,” Cooper said.

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