The first team to make the pre-quarterfinals from Group F in the FIFA U-17 World Cup, England found themselves in a state of “luxury”, but coach Steve Cooper warned against complacency.
Up 3-0 inside one hour, England conceded two goals in a space of seven minutes to settle for a 3-2 win against two-time champions Mexico, in the process notching up their second straight win.
“It’s a luxury to qualify after two games. But we are not thinking past the group stage yet. We have to show respect to our next opposition by recovering and putting on a good show again,” Cooper said about their final group match against Iraq here in three days’ time.
“Today was a difficult game as well. It shows quality and strength. We showed that in abundance tonight. We are ready to recover and play the next game. We are a team. I’m pleased with the performance, no doubt about that.”
Should they top the group, England will play their pre-quarterfinal at the Salt Lake Stadium, and Cooper said they have developed a strong connect with the city.
“We are absolutely loving it in Kolkata. The huge support at the stadium and people around training ground is just amazing. We will be doing some community work at a school tomorrow. We want to be visible among the local people in Kolkata.”
Their defence crumbled in the last 30 minutes as El Tri bounced back through a splendid brace by Diego Lainez.
“I thought we were wary of them in the second half. As for conceding the two goals, this can happen with young players. It’s a learning opportunity for them.
“But we did not crumble and concede a third. We have got six points from two games, that’s more important.”
Borussia Dortmund-bound Jadon Sancho may be on his way to join the Bundesliga giants, but Cooper said they have enough firepower in their ranks to replace the star player, who has three goals in two matches.
“We have got 21 players, I’m happy to play them. England is not about just one player. I’m comfortable with playing 21, that what’s we do in managing players. I’m really happy with the result.”
On their next opposition, Iraq, he said: “We are in a tough group, a group with a variety of opposition. I don’t think there’s any easy game in the World Cup. The best example was tonight. We can only concentrate on ourselves.”
Mexico may be staring at an early exit but coach Mario Arteaga said there’s still a lot of football left to be played.
“We still have one match left. We will fight hard against Chile and ensure that Mexico reach the pre-quarterfinals,” Arteaga said as they shift base to Guwahati along with Chile to play their last group match on October 14.
He sounded optimistic about the next game.
“We are prepared for the big challenges. Fortunately, no one is injured and everyone is available for our match against Chile. They have a really good central attack. We are not taking them lightly.”
Lainez did a turnaround for Mexico with two goals in the second half and the coach said the Club America midfielder’s confidence has got a big boost ahead of the big match.
“It was definitely important for him. He had his chances in the last match (in 1-1 draw against Iraq) but was stopped by the goalkeeper. Today’s show gives him a lot of confidence for the rest of the tournament. We hope to come back for the final,” Arteaga signed off.