Colombia and Iran had to settle for a 0-0 draw in Calabar, a game that required over an hour's worth of suspension in the second half to allow Mother Nature to run her course. The Asian champions and the South American hopefuls are both now tangled on four points at the top of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009's Group C with one game to go.
Iran hit out with an early raid, with just seconds gone, but the rest of the opening period saw the Colombians putting on a show. First Wilson Cuero crossed for Fabian Castillo after seven minutes, forcing Iranian keeper Iman Sadeghi into a fine save. Then Carlos Robles was denied a headed goal in the 19th minute, Sadeghi again coming to the rescue.
Colombian winger Stiveen Mendoza, a sparkling performer throughout, hit out on a dazzling run on the half-hour mark, leaving four Iranians in his wake. Even though the move came to nothing, it had the Nigerian fans in Calabar on their feet. They even clapped the impressive Colombians off the pitch at half-time as heavy rain began to fall.
With the downpour still in full swing and the fans huddled under any bit of cover they could find, the second half kicked off on time. The Colombians' slick interplay was suddenly held up on the water-logged pitch and the contest turned into a soggy street fight, with players slipping and sliding in sheets of spray and deep pools of water. Finally, in the 55th minute, referee Michael Hester brought the players into the changing rooms to wait out the cloudburst.
More than one hour later the players took the pitch again to finish off what they started. Straight away, Iran's Mehrgan Golbarg fired in a low shot from 20 yards that slipped off the wet pitch and caused Cristian Bonilla some problems. The Asians looked to be profiting from the slick pitch, with the talented South Americans suddenly unable to move the ball around the pitch with the ease they had in the first half. However, even with the better chances near the end, the scoreline stood at nil-all.
Iran and Colombia remain deadlocked at the top of Group C, both with four points from three games. The Cafeteros will take on Gambia in their final game of the section on 31 October in Calabar, while the Asians travel to Enugu for a meeting with the Dutch.