Inspired by the backing the U-17 team received from the whole country after its show against Colombia, an emotional head coach Luis Norton de Matos today said that his boys were "ready to die" for a win against Ghana in their final World Cup group game in New Delhi on Thursday. India suffered a 0-3 drubbing against the United States of America in their campaign opener but received all-round accolades for their gritty and vastly improved show in their 1-2 defeat against Colombia.
De Matos said his boys are determined to fight it out for a win and do even better than against Colombia.
"The boys want to finish the competition on a high with a very good impression. I think people are proud of the way the boys are playing and I am proud as a coach. They want to give not only 100 percent but 200 percent tomorrow and we are ready to die for the project (of Indian football)," de Matos said.
"To die is to give everything. I had a meeting with the players this morning and 100 percent they believe they can win tomorrow. That is fantastic. You have to go into a match with a winning mentality and not thinking you will lose," he told reporters ahead of the team training.
The Portuguese tactician admitted that Ghana will be even more dangerous than Colombia but asserted that his boys would fight it out for a win.
"For me, tomorrow's match will be the most difficult one as they (Ghana) are two-time champions, they are fast and strong. There are similarities between Colombia and Ghana, both their two wingers were very strong and can decide a match," said the India coach.
"Their (Ghana's) two fullbacks, left and right, are very good and they come out to support their attack. And their midfielder, the No. 18, the left-footed player organised all the actions for Ghana. So, Ghana have more players who can decide a game and so they are more difficult."
India may have to play without captain Amarjit Singh and key central defender Anwar Ali due to injuries.
"We are playing conditional training for Amarjit Singh and Anwar Ali today. The decision (to bring in fresh legs) will depend on whether they are available or not," he said when asked if he will bring fresh legs on Thursday.
"Except these two players, all others are ready to play. It has been a progression, we did better against Colombia than against the USA. We want to do better tomorrow and we are going to fight for a win. What will be the script we will know tomorrow."
Asked if he will make changes in his game plan, he said, "I cannot change much, I have to keep as many tall and strong players as possible as Ghana are a physically strong team.
"I would want my team to score first tomorrow and see what is the reaction of the other team."
Asked about goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh who has received all-round praise for his heroics under the bar in the two matches so far, de Matos said, "I am lucky Dheeraj is in a very good condition at the moment. The team has confidence in him.
"But he is just a part of our team. There are also other fantastic players who do invisible work to protect space and to protect zones. all are working for the team."
He said when he took over there was initially a feeling of fear among the Indian players.
"When I first met the players they had a complex of the fear of losing as other teams are very strong. We need to keep out that complex. Losing is not the worst thing in the world but we lose to learn lessons and win later. Every losing match is a winner in future because we can correct the mistakes to win later."
(With PTI Inputs)