THE DAY REPLAYED - Although day two of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009 produced fewer goals than yesterday, it lacked nothing in excitement. Leading the way were Turkey and Colombia, who showed their character and determination to kick off with important wins, while the African duo of Gambia and Burkina Faso let the pressure of the occasion get to them.
Determined to make a grand entrance in Group D, the Turks did just that when skipper Muhammet Demir gave them the lead against Burkina Faso inside three minutes. Abdullah Ercan's side then spent the remaining 87 minutes protecting their advantage, running out narrow winners to bolster his belief that they can go all the way in Nigeria.
At the same time as the young Stallions were falling to defeat, fellow Africans Gambia were making a similarly slow start to their Group C campaign against Iran. The Baby Scorpions did themselves no favours whatsoever by having two men sent off and gifting the Asians a goal through an unfortunate goalkeeping error. The 2-0 win for the Iranians was their very first in the competition's history.
Colombia joined them at the top of the section after turning in a gritty display to see off a much-fancied Netherlands side in the evening game. After taking the lead ten minutes into the second half, Los Cafeteros were pegged back, but they re-took the lead almost immediately through Deiner Cordoba. Despite a late Dutch storm, the South Americans held on to collect the three points.
In the day's other game Costa Rica and New Zealand produced gutsy performances in a 1-1 draw. Fighting back from a goal down, Los Ticos pushed hard for a winner in the closing stages, with the battling Kiwis hanging on to pick up a valuable point that does their chances of progressing from Group D no harm at all.
Click on the links in the right-hand column for full reports of the day's matches.
Goal of the day
Iran-Gambia, Payam Sadeghian 44
Gambia goalkeeper Ousmane Darboe was probably hoping the ground would open up and swallow him after gifting Iran their first goal of the afternoon. Attempting to launch a free-kick into the opposition half, Darboe scuffed the ground and sent the ball straight to Payam Sadeghian, stationed just a few yards outside the box. The Iranian striker took full advantage of the keeper's error, curling the ball into the empty net to set Team Melli on the road to an important win.
Calabar puts on a show
The southern Nigerian city staged a feast of football in every sense on Sunday. The fans packing into the U. J. Esuene Stadium created a fantastic atmosphere on a gloriously sunny afternoon that was capped by the sight of a giant eagle, not dissimilar to the tournament mascot, circling over the pitch.
Early baths for Gambia
The African side's fate was sealed by two dismissals in either half, the first of them for striker Buba Sama and the second for midfielder Demba Janneh. Coach Tariq Saigy was reluctant to lay the blame for his side's defeat on the errant duo though: "Sometimes you make mistakes. That's football."
Burkinabe bubble bursts
The Burkina Faso players were so excited at the prospect of contesting their first game in the tournament against Turkey that they were jumping for joy and saluting the crowd before a ball was even kicked in Enugu. It was not long before the Turks brought the Stallions down to earth with a bump, however, Demir putting the Europeans into an early lead they would not relinquish.
All in vain
Zakaria Labyad produced plenty of heroics as the Netherlands sought to keep Colombia at bay in Calabar. Twice the Dutch midfielder cleared the ball off the line to deny the South Americans. But sadly for the boys in Orange, Labyad was powerless to prevent Fabian Castillo and Deiner Cordoba from hitting the goals that would give Los Cafeteros a narrow win.
1 - The number of points New Zealand have earned in the competition since 1999, following their draw against Costa Rica. One is also the number of wins Iran have now recorded in the tournament. The Iranians suffered three defeats in three group games in their only previous appearance, which came at Trinidad and Tobago 2001.
Have your say
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