THE DAY REPLAYED - One day after Brazil underlined their status as FIFA U-17 World Cup Korea 2007 favourites, Spain, Nigeria and Japan served notice of their title intentions with impressive victories. And on a day when unfancied Syria held tournament heavyweights Argentina to a draw and, despire defeat, CONCACAF newcomers Honduras and Haiti delivered admirable performances, a crop of teenagers put their name in bolder font on the list of potential superstars of the future.
Indeed, Spain's Bojan Krkic lived up to his towering reputation in Ulsan and the charming skills of King Osanga and Rabiu Ibrahim sparkled in Gwangyang, while Haiti's Charles Herold Junior and Syrian goalkeeper Admad Madnia announced their talent to captivated audiences - and the many watching the action live on FIFA.com.
Bojan outshines impressive Hondurans
Going into the FIFA U-17 World Cup, the goalscoring ability of Bojan Krkic had cemented Spain's place among the forerunners for gold. Two minutes into his side's curtain raiser against Honduras, the Barcelona striker showed why. Taking a long-ball in his stride, Krkic produced a superb lob to get the European champions off to a flying start. Krkic added another fine goal in the second half, and Jordi also helped himself to a brace to seal a 4-2 win at the Ulsan Complex Stadium.
But despite controlling possession and registering 23 attempts on David De Gea's goal, the Iberians were given a run for their money by a Honduran side who made a signifcant contribution to an enchanting spectacle. Miguel Escalante's side had 14 shots of their own and goals from Christian Martinez and Roger Rojas ensured the match hung in the balance until Jordi finally put it out of their reach in the 81st minute.
In a clash of the giants in Group D, two-time champions Nigeria edged an exciting, end-to-end contest against 2001 winners France. The Africans quickly got into their stride, and with King Osanga showcasing his full repotoire of step-overs, drag-backs and body swerves they managed to take a 15th minute lead. Osanga unfastened the Mini-Bleus' backline and, after goalkeeper Joris Delle had made one save, Macauley Chrisantus tucked home the rebound. It was the perfect early birthday present for the lively forward, who will turn 17 tomorrow.
Henri Saviet's elegant display was rewarded with the equaliser following the interval but from a Osanga free-kick, Rabiu Ibrahim netted the game's third and final goal in the 64th minute to claim all three points for Nigeria.
Stars are born
Japan supporters have good reason to be satisfied with their 3-1 win in Group D, but their Haitan counterparts were also given serveral moments to cheer at the Gwangyang Soccer Only Field. The majority of these flashes emanated from the boots of Charles Herold Junior, whose mesmeric dribbling provided Hiroshi Jofuku's charges with a constant headache.
It was his namesake, Joseph Guemsly Junior, who put Haiti on level terms in the 71st minute, but goals from Hiroki Kawano and Yoichiro Kakitani steered Japan, whose clever passing and link-up play caught the eye, to victory.
It is safe to say that Ahmad Madnia is not the most popular person in Argentina right now. Indeed, an outstanding effort from the Syria keeper - coupled with some resolute defending from his team-mates - clinched the minnows, who qualified as Asia's fourth placed side, a 0-0 draw against the South American heavyweights. The highlight of Madnia's 90-minute exhibition was a fantastic triple save on the stroke of half-time - the exasparated looks on the faces of the Albiceleste youngsters told the story.
Syria even managed to unsettle their opponents' defence on occasions and will have been disappointed not to have made more of their 15 efforts on goal. For their part, Argentina can take heart from the trademark free-flowing football they played. On another day, they could have scored several, however, 19 August belogned to Madnia.