Chile focus on future after improved display

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  • Chile exit after two defeats and a draw, and no goals scored
  • Captain Lucas Alarcon rues his side’s opening two losses
  • “Against Mexico, we showed who we really are,” he insists

“You have to learn from your mistakes, so as not to repeat them,” says Chile captain Lucas Alarcon, left to wonder what might have been after his team’s 0-0 draw with Mexico at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017. Unfortunately for him, the South Americans committed too many errors in their first two Group F games – and there was no way back in their final outing against El Tri.

“The way we played in our first two matches just isn’t who we are,” insists Alarcon, still smarting after his team’s disappointing start. Chile kicked off with a 4-0 loss to England and 3-0 reverse against Iraq, and their skipper feels a lack of concentration was at least partly to blame: “We weren’t focused enough, and perhaps the climate affected us as well.”

Despite those heavy defeats, La Rojita could still have turned their situation around in their third encounter. A place in the last 16 was theirs if they could overcome Mexico, and they went about their task with clear intent. Chile gave everything to break the deadlock while tightening up at the back, but the crucial goal they needed never came.  

“Today, we showed a different side to ourselves and we did our national team justice,” says the Universidad de Chile defender. “We came here to win our final match and tried everything, but it was too late and not enough for us to qualify.”

Instead, Chile now face an early voyage home, yet their captain believes they had the quality to progress further. “Every team at a World Cup is very strong, and that was definitely the case with the teams in our group,” he says. “But I’m certain they weren’t stronger than us. We just didn’t play at our best level in our first two matches. We didn’t show what we’re capable of.”

Chile at India 2017:
– Three games, two defeats and a draw

– Seven goals conceded, none scored

– Eight yellow cards, one red: the worst disciplinary record

Chile before India 2017:
– Earned their first spot at a U-17 World Cup since 1997 (qualified as hosts in 2015)

– Five wins at the South American U-17 Championship

It may be scant consolation, but Alarcon and Co gave a better indication of their quality in Guwahati, having suffered their opening defeats in Kolkata. The spectators in attendance got to witness a well-organised, courageous and resolute team, who focused on defending well before going for broke in the closing minutes – ultimately in vain. “What I said to my team-mates in the dressing room is that I was proud to captain a side which gave everything up until the end, despite all our difficulties,” Alarcon told FIFA.com. “Today, you saw a team that fights and never gives up, and one that gave everything to try to qualify. That’s who this team really is.”

Chile’s improved performance against Mexico may have come too late to rescue their campaign, but their captain hopes their experience in India will be the start of something special – especially as it came after their first successful tilt at the South American qualifiers in 20 years. “You learn a lot at a World Cup,” he explained. “We hope that’ll help us qualify for the U-20 World Cup, and perhaps one day earn us a place in the senior team.”



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