Kiwis spoil Uzbek opening party
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An inspired performance from midfielder Stephen Carmichael led tournament veterans New Zealand to a historic 4-1 victory over debutants Uzebekistan in Group D in Torreon. Carmichael’s treble was the first-ever for a Kiwi at the tournament, and the four-goal outing was a record high for the Young All Whites in a FIFA finals competition.

While Uzbekistan enjoyed a fine start to their first FIFA U-17 World Cup campaign, twice threatening through Timur Kakimov in the early moments, the Oceania side were the ones to take the lead in the tenth minute. Carmichael scored his first of three goals on the day when Uzbekistan’s inexperience began to show through. A mistake from defender Mirzamurod Jurabaev served up a perfect chance for the midfielder to power home.

Despite their efforts to rebound from the early deficit, the Uzbek boys were unable to put away their chances. After the first quarter of an hour, Zabikhillo Urinboev showed little conviction in front of goal, choosing instead to pass his opportunity away. And the Uzbeks were made to pay for the missed chance as another mix-up in their defense allowed Carmichael to bag a second.

Just before the break, Uzbekistan were given a lifeline with Kakimov scoring in the 39th minute. However, they would again be put on the back foot as Carmichael was not done with his scoring for the day. The midfielder completed his hat-trick shortly after the restart when he received a ball from Cameron Howieson, who had stretched Uzbekistan’s defence. For the remainder of the match, there was little in the way of danger for the two sides as the ball got stuck in midfield. But adding insult to injury, New Zealand capped off the rout in the closing minutes as midfielder Jordan Vale hit for their fourth.

New Zealand will meet Czech Republic in their next match in Monterrey on Wednesday 22 June, while Uzbekistan will look to boost their fate in their first campaign when they meet USA in their second game.