As the clock strikes 8 on Friday evening, India will wake up to ‘A Billion’s Dream’: To play in a FIFA World Cup.

The India U-17 national team will walk out straight into the history books on 06th October against the USA as they become the first ever side under the tri-colour to participate in a FIFA World Cup tournament. The senior national team was invited to play the FIFA World Cup in 1950, but the team did not participate due to multiple reasons. Nonetheless, the long-standing dream for every Indian football fan has finally come true as India play a football World Cup, albeit at the U-17 level.

The boys have put in a lot of hard work, staying and practising together for over two years now. Nicolai Adam left in January, and Portuguese experienced manager Luis Norton de Matos was given the nod over four other nominations. The team, since then, has played a lot of football on the ground and has managed to put in good performances in phases.

Match Referee: Gery Vargas

Venue: Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi

To reach the venue and know more: FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 City Guide: Delhi

Time: 8:00 PM IST


Portugal has a touch of Latin to their gameplay and it wouldn’t be wrong to expect the same from de Matos. Coming from the Sporting Lisbon fraternity, de Matos will look to use the pace and creativity of Ninthoingamba Meetei and Komal Thatal on the respective wings, with Komal also providing a little weight centrally. Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem will continue to his presence under the bar. 

The team is expected to play a 4-2-3-1 formation, which will mostly shift to a 4-5-1 format whenever India defend. Anwar Ali and Jitendra Singh look destined to start as centre-backs Namit pushing them for a starting role. Hendry Antony looks set to take the right-back role in the absence of Boris Singh Thangjam, who is suspended with a red card for the first game. Meetei will provide cover to Antony, the No. 7 playing as the right winger in attack and wing-back while in defence.

On the left, Indian set-piece expert Sanjeev Stalin is set to make the left-back role his own, having proven his credentials time and again. In the central midfield, captain Amarjit Singh Kiyam and Suresh Singh Wangjam have been long time regulars in the team and will be expected to continue the hard work of defending, cleaning up and providing support in and around the opposition box. Komal Thatal, India’s No. 10 and one of the hidden talents of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, is expected to start on the left wing, providing cover and support to Sanjeev.

Khel Now Prediction: India’s expected XI against the USA 

The No. 10 role in attack will transform to the third midfielder’s role in defence and is expected to land to either Jeakson Singh or Nongdamba. Khel Now predicts that Nongdamba will start and will keep inter-changing his position with Komal throughout the game. Aniket Jadhav remains the certain starter in the striker’s role.


In attack, India will take a shape of 4-1-4-1, with captain Amarjit sitting in front of the defence to ensure protection in case of counter-attacks from the opposition. Suresh will be expected to go higher up the midfield alongside Nongdomba, the No. 6 has played the No. 10 role in the past. Komal will be expected to operate centrally in patches, but that will depend on the kind of space the USA defence allows.

Visuals from Indian Football team training before taking on USA in FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017

While defending, India will turn into a compact 4-5-1, with Komal usually being the out-and-out forward. Aniket’s physicality will be used to good effect as the No. 11 works hard on the pitch. Attacking players Meetei and Nongdamba will also be expected to help out the defensive shape of the side.

Sanjeev Stalin will be expected to take care of the dead-ball situations. The left-back will be looking for the heads of Aniket, Anwar and Jitendra whenever there’s a chance to put the ball into the box. India, though, they haven’t looked very convincing on set-pieces. Amarjit Kiyam will be Stalin’s expected deputy.

Rival Watch

Under John Hackworth, the USA U-17 football team plays a 4-4-2 system, with two sitting defensive midfielders. The attacking onus is on the quartet of Andrew Carleton, Ayo Akinola, John Sergant and midfielder Chris Durkin. Andrew Carleton will be one of the main creative forces for the team in white, operating on the wings.

India and USA are in Group A: Here’s everything you need to know about!

Carleton will be hoping to start the tournament on a positive note, targeting his crosses to Akinola and his deadly strike partner Sergant, who has already put his name in the history books of US football at various age groups. 

Boys to Watch

Komal Thatal: The ‘Indian Phillipe Coutinho’ does not have a lot of influence on major parts of the game, as he’s the kind of player who likes an extra second on the ball. Once he gets into that zone, it’s difficult to steal the ball from of his feet until he creates something, or at least tries to. USA defenders will surely be on their feet to ensure Komal doesn’t incite much damage on them, a trait he’s already shown against South American heavyweights Brazil and Uruguay.

Komal Thatal is the first Indian to score against Brazil at any level

Josh Sergant: Already under the radar of several European clubs, the forward has already played the U-20 World Cup and scored a record-equalling four goals. Brilliantly built, agile and powerful, Sergant has been scouted by German club Werder Bremen in the past. The No. 9 will surely try to stake his claim on the Golden Boot and Indian defenders would do a good job to keep him quiet on the opening day.

Coach’s Corner

Luis Norton De Matos: As a coach, I’d like to have a derivative of solutions for United States attack with fantastic players in Akinola, Sargent and Carleton are players who are very strong as well. For us, we have to play as a collective unit and try to fight these strongest points of the United States.

Full Pre-Match conference: We hope that tomorrow we can play with 12 players. 11 players and the fans: Luis Norton de Matos

AIFF President Praful Patel presented the team with motivation in the final training session before the World Cup

John Hackworth: “I would start by saying that they’re one of the hardest working teams that we’ve seen. We played them a little over a year ago here in India. The way they play and compete has improved and they’ve done a tremendous job in the last one year. We come with a lot of respect in the game. The 12th man is also against us and that could be key.”

Full Pre-Match conference: The 12th Man is against us and that could be the key to the game: USA coach John Hackworth


The game will be telecast Live on DD Sports, Ten 2 & Ten 3. You can also follow the Live Commentary of the game on Khel Now.

Khel Now is willing to give out cool Folofo T-shirts in various sizes to the winners of a contest. Comment your scoreline predictions for the game below the article and five entries will win these cool tees. We’ll courier it on your address. The contest will continue in all Indian National team games during the World Cup, and you can win ’em all. 

Cool, funky and a treat for football fanatics, will you get them all?

Comment your predictions below to win the same. Contest closes at 7:50 PM IST.