Australia celebrated their 40th game in FIFA U-17 World Cup history with a 2-1 come-from-behind win against fancied African outfit Côte d’Ivoire in their first Group F game in Guadalajara. Led by the prodigious talents of West Ham United ace Dylan Tombides, the Aussie side never lost their cool and moved to the top of their section alongside Brazil.
The weather was mercifully cool in Guadalajara when Côte d’Ivoire and Australia met in the evening game and, as a result, the first half was played at a high tempo with both teams eager to race into attack. Mory Kone nearly opened the scoring for the Africans, who were the better side in the first half, after seven minutes, but he failed to keep his volley from a corner-kick under the crossbar.
Australia had their best chance of the opening period five minutes later when Connor Chapman raced into the area to create a clear opportunity on goal, but he too couldn’t keep is shot from flying over the bar. The Ivorians finally made the crucial breakthrough in the 18th minute. Drisse Diarrasouba pressured the Australian defence, took hold of the ball and passed to Souleymane Coulibaly, who did well to shoot low into the far corner.
Dylan Tombides was clearly Australia’s best player, but not even the West Ham man’s orchestrations were enough to see the Aussies back to level terms before the whistle went for the interval. His snapshot in the 32nd minute very nearly surprised goalkeeper Yored Konate, who eventually righted himself to make the save.
The Australians came out in the second period with renewed spirit, and in the 51st minute Jess Makarounas dragged the Aussies back into the contest with a well-taken equaliser. The No10 had not been playing well before he had his say on the encounter, but he made no mistake this time, finishing with aplomb from distance after a neat give-and-go with Hernan Espindola. And the young men from Oz weren’t done yet, as they took the lead on 77 minutes though the impressive talents of Tombides. He took full advantage of a mix-up in the Africans’ rearguard, deceived his marker and slammed into the back of the net.
The Australians will next meet rampaging Brazil, who beat Denmark 3-0 in their opener, on 23 June in Guadalajara, the same day that the Ivorians tangle with the Danes, who looked impressive despite the result.