The ongoing FIFA U-17 World Cup has witnessed India losing both their matches so far, against USA and Colombia. Some players like Dheeraj Singh, Komal Thatal, Jeakson Singh and others have stood out, but one should not forget the contribution of 12th man – the home crowd at JLN Stadium – who have egged these youngsters despite the odds.
The atmosphere in football matches look wonderful when played in front of a massive crowd, with supporters turning in huge numbers to support the team. The same has been the case with both India matches in Delhi, crowd seated hours before the contest. It is a breath of fresh air for football in India.
Cricket matches in India have witnessed jam-packed stadiums, but for a football match to witness a massive turnout, these are encouraging signs. There has been constant support for the Indian team, with fans trying to visit the stadium in the Indian blue. Though some might have not worn the blue jersey, they made it up with their vociferous support.
There was constant support during both games. India might have not had much possession, but the supporters' decibel levels increased manifold when an Indian player had the ball at their feet.
They always wanted a brilliant move from the player, which could help the team in scoring a goal. There were constant shouts of 'shoot, shoot' from different individuals when an Indian player had a ball outside the box. There were chants for India goalkeeper, 'Dheeraj, Dheeraj' who came up with some incredible saves in both matches.
Even when India were outplayed by the US, the home supporters did not lose hope. They supported the players like never before, encouraging them to give their best.
Against Colombia, the crowd were treated to some good display from India, who could have scored a goal in the first half. Even though Colombia scored first, the crowd did not let their heads drop, which played an important role as India scored their maiden FIFA event goal.
After Jeakson Singh scored the goal for India, the decibel level reached its peak as he also became country's first player to score in a FIFA event. India could not enjoy that moment for long, as Colombia scored a winning goal few minutes later.
However, the home fans gave a standing ovation to the Indian colts, who also applauded their support, despite the heartbreaking loss.
Though India might have lost their first two matches, the 12th man of Indian colts will once again turn up in huge numbers for their last group stage match, against Ghana on Thursday (October 12). Coach Luis Norton de Matos and his boys will hope to collect their first ever World Cup point, and thus create a night to remember for all football fans in India.
The 12th man of India deserves, at least, a point from the home team for their solid support.