KOLKATA: Chileans the world over will not lack back fondly over the last two days. While the senior team failed to book their place for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the U-17 side only have a slim mathematical chance of making it to the knockout stage.
For the young stars who are in the country to take part in the U-17 World Cup, the senior team’s failure against Brazil was a big blow. Coach Hernan Caputto admitted that everyone was disappointed.
“I stayed awake to watch the match (5AM IST). The result was a bitter pill to swallow. The boys got up and asked about the game. It was hard for them to digest. All of the senior stars are players these kids look up to,” the former goalkeeper said. He, however, refused to blame his team’s 3-0 loss to Iraq because of that.
The main question on everyone’s lips is how did this sudden fall from grace occur. Chile was going through a golden phase. While the senior team won back-to-back Copa America titles, the U-17 squad reached the knockouts in the last U-17 World Cup which was held at home. Big things were expected from the youngsters and they did not disappoint as they finished runners-up in the South American U-17 Championship.
However, since arriving here, all their plans have fallen flat as they lost 4-0 to England in their opener and again 3-0 to Iraq on Wednesday.
“Even I don’t know what is wrong. Introspection is needed for all quarters. The results are very disappointing. It is not like I didn’t try to change things around. I made four changes from the first game but all plans failed to materialise. I take full responsibility for all the losses.”
The senior team’s loss prompted quite a few stars to mull hanging up their boots. Claudio Bravo gave an emotional interview to local newspapers, blaming the system in the country and the lack of a proper plan in place. The Manchester City goalkeeper said all teams, right from age-group to seniors, should have one footballing style.
43-year-old Caputto admitted that though that is the best plan, it is wishful thinking. “You have to accept reality. In today’s day and age, with different managers and the pressure on them, one style of football is not feasible. Results are the most important thing and this topic would not have come up if all teams would have proved themselves.”
La Roja needs a miracle to progress to the knockouts. Not only have they lost both their games, but their goal difference of -7 is quite damaging. But the Argentina-born coach refused to give up, hoping for a turnaround.
“There have been historical instances of teams going on to progress despite losing twice. The goal difference part is the main concern. But we are representing the flag and the passionate people of our country here. Chileans may struggle and fall but they never back down,” was Caputto’s battle-cry, as his team left the City of Joy for Guwahati, where they will face Mexico in a do-or-die clash.