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India well organized in defence: Sweden coach



Mumbai, Dec 14: Sweden U-17 women's team coach Par Lagerstrom feels India were well organized in defence despite losing 0-3 in the opening match of the U-17 Football Tournament at the Mumbai Football Arena.

Sweden, bronze medallists at this year's Women's World Cup, are among the three participants in the competition.

"The Indian federation (AIFF) is putting a lot of resources into girls' and women's football. They are trying to change the culture and give 500 million girls a potential chance to turn professionals. Football can change lives and if we can be a small part of that, I'm really happy," he said.

Talking about how he rated India's performance, Lagerström said that he was impressed with the Indian team's defensive organization. He said: "I told Thomas (Dennerby) right after the game. India were really good close to their own penalty box and were good at the times they had chances to score."

"They were really well-organized in defence. We have some really fast players like Monica (Bah) – she's one of the fastest players in Sweden and strong too. Both the Indian defenders read her play well and matched her speed. In defence, you need to be organized and play together, which they did. I was really impressed by that," he added.

Lagerstrom talked about how such tournaments help players prepare and improve, stating that this "education" is invaluable for them — especially with Sweden set to host the UEFA Women's Under-17 Championship 2020 in May next year. He said, "I think such tournaments are very very useful. First of all, our task is to prepare players to become elite players for the future. U17 and U19 players are the ones who will play in the senior team later and will aim to win medals at various championships."

"A good advantage of coming to a different part of the world is that such championships will be played across the world and against different kinds of teams. So, that is education for the team and giving these young players such experience is very important for us," he continued.

An added bonus of such a tournament, according to Lagerström, is that it helps the players experience new cultures as well and grow as "human beings". He said, "It's good to be here in Mumbai five months before the European Championship and play new teams. Staying and living together as a team and seeing new things in a different part of the world helps us develop as human beings."

Sweden will now face Thailand in the next match of the Women's Football Tournament which will take place at the Mumbai Football Arena on Sunday.

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