THE DAY REPLAYED - The 12th edition of the FIFA U-17
World Cup kicked off today, with four matches igniting the thrills
for which the competition has become renowned. Brazil made an
emphatic statement by beating New Zealand 7-0, Costa Rica's
clash with Togo and the meeting between England and Korea DPR ended
in stalemates, before Peru maintained South American smiles with a
slender victory over Korea Republic.
While the results ranged from the unexpected to the predictable, the 12 goals varied from the breathtaking to the bizarre to the record-breaking. The latter bracket is undoubtedlly where the most eye-catching headlines emanate from, Fabinho's nine-second strike for Brazil replacing Hakan Sukur's 11-second effort for Turkey against Korea Republic, also posted on Korean soil during the 2002 FIFA World Cup™, as the fastest goal in the history of FIFA finals tournaments.
More importantly to the
Seleção, it set-up them on the way to an impressive win
which served to justify their pre-tournament hype and thrill a
vibrant crowd inside the Jeju FIFA World Cup Stadium - and those
watching the action live on
FIFA.com. Lazaro doubled Lucho Nizzo's
team's advantage on six minutes, and further goals from
Giuliano, Fabio, Alex, Lulinha and Junior completed their
With their plehtora of flicks and tricks in full swing, a number of Brazilians dazzled at the scene of their country's 4-0 win over China during the 2002 FIFA World Cup, but it was Vasco starlet Alex who stole the show. As well as his goal - which followed an eye-catching dribble past two opponents - the No11 contibuted three assists.
Despite the margin of defeat, New Zealand, who never
gave up against a formidable Brazil side, did have their moments.
The lively Costa Barbarouses had a first half penalty saved by
Marcelo, whose left-hand post denied Cory Chettleburgh an early
goal of the tournament contender.
Earlier in Jeju, a fascinating duel between a skillful England team and Korea DPR took place. The Three Lions controlled the game for long periods, but their opponents' impressive long-range shooting capabilities made them an incessant threat.
Middlesbrogh wingers Nathan Porritt and Jonathan
Franks shone under the scorching heat, and when the former was
swtiched from the left to the right in the second half, the move
paid dividends. Porritt teased his way infield and when Korean
goalkeeper O Mun Song parried his shot, Victor Moses was on hand to
dispatch the rebound.
As the game wore on, however, the pendulum began to swing in Korea DPR's favour, and their efforts were rewarded in the 89th minute when Rim Chol Min netted from close range.
The other two games on the opening day took place at the Suwon Sports Complex, which was brimmed to capacity for Korea Republic's curtain raiser against Peru. The atmosphere inside the stadium was electric, with the hosts' supporters cheering excitedly every time their young heroes advanced and the outnumbered Peruvians signings their hearts out for the cause.
The South Americans had good reason for celebration on 29 minutes when Carlos Bazalar put them ahead in bizarre fashion, his diving header coming back off the post, hitting his grounded body and ending up in the back on the net. Thereafter, Korea Republic tried relentlessly to get back into the game but as the half progressed, the visiting followers' chants of sí se puede (yes we can) became louder and louder. And indeed they could, Juan Jose Ore's charges resisting their adversaries' assaults on their goal to stride to the top of the Group A standings.
In the pool's other match, a star was born in the colours of Togo before a hero emerged to steal Costa Rica a share of the spoils. Sopol Mani announced his arrival on the world stage with a wonder goal, but with nine minutes left on the clock, substitute Josue Martinez snatched a point for Costa Rica.
With Honduras, Argentina, Nigeria and Japan poised to lock horns with Spain, Syrua, France and Haiti respectively, bring on day two!