THE DAY REPLAYED - Nail-biting tension right up until the final whistle was in evidence during the second day of action in Groups A and B. Slovakia and Côte d'Ivoire were left pondering what might have been after conceding stoppage-time equalisers to Honduras and Uruguay respectively.
It was a rather more positive day for both Brazil and Italy, who each qualified for the next round with a game to spare after notching their second victories in as many outings. Meanwhile, New Zealand and hosts United Arab Emirates are on the verge of elimination, without a single point to show for their efforts so far.
Group A - Abu Dhabi
Slovakia 2-2 Honduras
United Arab Emirates 1-6 Brazil
Group B - Ras Al Khaimah
Uruguay 1-1 Côte d'Ivoire
Italy 1-0 New Zealand
Inspirational team talks
After losing 6-1 to Brazil in their opening fixture, things were not looking good for FIFA U-17 World Cup debutants Slovakia, who were 1-0 down at the break against Honduras. Yet coach Ladislav Pecko's half time team-talk breathed new life into his players - temporarily at last. A brace from Tomas Vestenicky (48', 57') had the Europeans ready to celebrate a first U-17 World Cup victory, only for Jorge Bodden to spoil the party with a 92nd-minute equaliser.
New Zealand's Monty Patterson shouldered the responsibility of taking his side's penalty against Italy in the 18th minute, yet his effort, as well as the rebound, were kept out by superb reflex saves from Italy custodian Simone Scuffet. To make matters worse, Luca Vido, who netted the Azzurri’s winner in their opening match, scored the decisive goal shortly after the break to hand the Kiwis a second successive defeat. The result also means the Oceania champions have now gone 453 tournament minutes without finding the net.
Brazilian club rivalry
In Brazil’s 6-1 opening triumph over Slovakia, Atletico Paranaense duo Mosquito and Nathan caught the eye in particular, grabbing five of their side’s goals. In A Seleção’s next outing against hosts United Arab Emirates, they recorded another 6-1 victory - the fourth such scoreline in the tournament’s history - only this time a different pair stole the limelight. Boschilia and Joanderson notched three of the team's goals and they also lace their boots for the same club: Sao Paulo.
All is not lost
Following Côte d'Ivoire’s 1-0 defeat against Italy on Matchday 1, Uruguay’s late leveller this time was a major setback for the African champions’ hopes of reaching the Round of 16. With that in mind, coach Ibrahima Kamara gathered his entire squad together in the centre circle after the final whistle in an effort to gee up his troops. It appeared to work, as one or two smiles crept back on to the faces of the young Elephants as they subsequently watched group opponents Italy and New Zealand in action from the stands.
At the Mohammad Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, the supporters of the host nation once again created a fantastic atmosphere, led by probably the country’s most famous fan, Khaled Horriya, who was armed with a megaphone. Wearing t-shirts in the colours of the United Arab Emirates flag and bearing gleaming drums, they urged their team on. However, Honduras also enjoyed considerable support. Given that the fans were seated all around the stadium, the players did a lap of honour at the final whistle, soaking up the atmosphere and throwing their shirts into the stands.
1 - Uruguay recorded a draw with an African team for the first time in tournament history. After losing to Ghana twice (1991, 1999) Las Charrúas had won three in a row against the continent’s representatives, beating Algeria (2009), Rwanda and Congo (both in 2011).
“Football is a wonderful game, but it can also be brutal sometimes. The best team doesn’t always win at the end and that was the case today. I was very disappointed and angry, as they scored from a set-piece in additional time. But we need to move on and take the positives from this draw. With four points we could still qualify for the last 16, so we’re focusing all our attentions on the last game, even if our fate is no longer entirely in our own hands,” Slovakia coach Ladislav Pecko.
Croatia – Panama (Fujairah, 17.00)
Uzbekistan – Morocco (Fujairah, 20.00)
Tunisia – Russia (Sharjah, 17.00)
Japan – Venezuela (Sharjah, 20.00)