Germany will have mixed feelings about their opening match at
the FIFA U-17 World Cup Korea 2007, uncertain whether to be pleased
or dismayed after a thrilling 3-3 draw with Colombia.
On the one hand, Germany's scintillating attacking performance helped take a point off the Cafeteros, many experts' outside bet for a tilt at the title after an impressive result in finishing runners-up to Brazil at the South American U-17 Championship. But on the other hand, coach Heiko Herrlich's team were in the driving seat at 3-1 up in the second half, before conceding two goals and dropping two points as the Colombians staged a late rally.
The post-match reaction from the German camp reflected this, although the general feeling inclined towards accentuating the positives from the first match. "We had the Colombians under control and only ran into trouble against high balls," Herrlich reflected. "I can't fault my lads and I'm not dissatisfied, because the point still gives us every chance of going through."
"Obviously it's a shame we let them equalise after leading 3-1, but we're not especially disappointed," Richard Sukuta-Pasu similarly assured FIFA.com. The striker has already put Monday's match behind him and is looking forward to the next task: "It's almost better to start with a draw than a win, because we'll concentrate even harder on our next match."
That takes place on Thursday at the Cheonan Sports Complex when the Germans face Ghana, 4-1 winners over Trinidad and Tobago in their first match thanks to periods of forceful attacking play. The Europeans are preparing for a stern test of character, but also know a win would set them nicely on course for the Round of 16.
"Ghana aren't as physically strong as Colombia, but they have greater pace. It'll be a very different and a very interesting match," argued Sukuta-Pasu, himself boasting African roots though his Congo-born parents.
The likeable and permanently upbeat striker enjoyed a personal success in the first match after scoring the goal to hand his side a 2-1 lead against the Colombians. "It was a great feeling, but obviously we wanted to go on and win the game. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter who scores the goals. The important thing is playing well as a team and delivering the goods," the No9 modestly declared.
What are the athletic 1.84m goal-getter's targets at the finals? "I want to perform to the best of my abilities, show what I can do and keep on scoring vital goals for my team, helping us to go as far as we can," the Bayer Leverkusen youngster observed, before adding with a grin: "Naturally, the best thing would be if we won the World Cup."
After the praiseworthy opening display against title hopefuls Colombia, Germany certainly cannot be written off and have even been added to some commentators' private lists of trophy candidates. Sukuta-Pasu is refusing to get carried away. "I'm not saying anything, that's someone else's job. But we're definitely a good team."
Ghana will have taken notice.