In their first FIFA U-17 World Cup appearance, Panama came out rearing for an early goal against African champions Burkina Faso in the second Group E match of the day in Queretaro. The Panamanians showed little sign of inexperience, as they scored through Jorman Aguilar to pocket all three points and a 1-0 victory in their finals debut.
Burkina Faso appeared a bit stunned by a few quality chances from the well-organised Panamanians. Within three minutes, Panama’s Alfredo Stephens had an excellent shot hit the crossbar and seconds later Dario Wright lifted the ball over goalkeeper Seni Ouedraogo only to see his chance fly over the bar. And, Burkina Faso unable to muster a shot on goal until the 20th minute, soon found themselves a goal behind.
Panama, keen on opening group play with an upset, capitalised on a defensive mistake from Issouf Paro, who had a weak header settle in the area for Aguilar to hammer home a left-footed shot and the first goal for his country at a FIFA U-17 World Cup. The goal seemed to spring Burkina to life as they closed out the first half with some chances of their own. Ben Zerbo and Ismael Bande fired two quick-fire shots just wide of keeper Ivan Picart’s post, but the Burkinabe squad would go into the break goalless.
The four-time U-17 World Cup participants showed little sign of levelling the score after the restart. Panama, for their part, appeared content with their one-goal lead and began to slow down the match providing for a rather forgettable second half. Burkina rarely tested Picart, however, in the 85th minute the Africans hit for one of their only chances on target. Ousmane Nana drove a low shot towards Picart’s net, who was forced to make a diving save.
Frustrations began to mount as the Panamanians, hanging onto their slender lead, began to drop with injuries. Burkina had their final chance at a an equaliser in injury time when Yaya Bamba shot a curling free-kick in which Picart had to get down to block.
Panama will face South Americans Ecuador in Queretaro on 23 June, while Burkina Faso have a daunting fixture ahead as they face Germany who saw off the Ecuador with ease in their opener.