THE DAY REPLAYED - The first two games on this rain-soaked Tuesday ended in 1-1 draws, with Korea DPR keeping up their reputation for counter-attacking efficiency and sharing the points with reigning European champions the Netherlands, who kept up their reputation for missing chance after chance in front of goal. Over in Monterrey, Japan were able to battle back and earn a point against France, who for some reason started the game without Yassine Benzia, scorer of two goals in their stunning opening-day win over Argentina. Despite the result, both sides look poised to reach the next phase on four points with one game to go.
The later contests provided a bit more spark for the local crowds, especially the fans in Morelia who saw their homeboys edge a 2-1 thriller against Congo to become the first side to reach the knockout stages of the FIFA U-17 World Cup. The Congolese, sadly, ended the game with nine men, becoming the first side to receive multiple red cards at these finals. Jamaica also made a bit of history with Zhelano Barnes scoring the country’s first and only goal at a U-17 finals in five tries. He celebrated extravagantly, although the party ended at the final whistle as Argentina ran out 2-1 winners.
Korea DPR 1-1 Netherlands
Mexico 2-1 Congo
Japan 1-1 France
Jamaica 1-2 Argentina
Goal of the day
Lucas Pugh 63’, Jamaica-Argentina
Argentina’s Lucas Ocampos raced forward, hoping to add to his side’s 1-0 lead against Jamaica in Monterrey. Without even picking up his head, he let loose an inch-perfect through ball that beat two defenders and landed on the toe of his River Plate team-mate Lucas Pugh, who didn’t have to break his stride. There seemed to be something near telepathy involved in this move, the kind that only comes from players who train together and share a locker-room week in and week out. Pugh made no mistake with his part of the move, either, slamming into the top corner of Nico Campbell's goal with authority.
Sombre silence observed
It was a sad day at the finals in Mexico, and for football as a whole, as news of the death of top Russian referee Vladimir Pettay spread around the globe. Fresh from officiating his 100th Russian Premier League game between Dinamo Moscow and Rubin Kazan, his plane crashed, killing him and 43 others under heavy fog in Petrozavodsk. All four games of the U-17 finals on Tuesday began with moments of silence in memory of Pettay, all impeccably observed by fans and players alike.
All change for France, Gonfalone
Most coaches wouldn’t dare shuffle their pack after opening a tournament with a 3-0 demolition of South American powers Argentina, but Patrick Gonfalone is his own man. The Tunis-born former winger made no fewer than three changes to his side, even benching Yassine Benzia, two-goal hero from the first match. His replacement, Timoue Bakayoko, had a hand in the opening goal of the 1-1 draw with Japan. One wonders if the coach will change back to the side that won when they meet Jamaica in their final game.
Fickle fans take a stand
The fans at the Estadio Morelos fell in love with Congo in their first game, when their flicks and tricks paved the way to a shock 1-0 win over European champions the Netherlands. Mavis Tchibota was their favourite, too, his brilliant moves up the flank roared on by the crowd. This time, though, up against hosts Mexico, the elegant skill merchant was treated far less kindly. Feared as he was for his irrepressible skills, his every touch was booed mercilessly. At one point, midway through the first half, he lined up to take a corner-kick and was booed wildly by the fans just over his shoulder. His response: a laugh, a drop of the head, a wide smile and a round of applause back to the crowd.
8 - the number of shots on target Korea DPR’s sharp-shooters needed to get their two goals at these finals. In their opener with Mexico, they scored with their first shot of only four. This afternoon, in their 1-1 draw with the Dutch, they scored with their second effort on goal, and they only put two more on frame (four again). In a city like Monterrey – renown for its artistic spirit – the North Koreans have mastered the art of opportunistic finishing.
22 June 2011
Uruguay-Rwanda (Pachuca 15.00)
USA-Uzbekistan (Torreon 15.00)
Canada-England (Pachuca 18.00)
Czech Republic-New Zealand (Torreon 18.00)