Though goals were few and far between at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013 on Tuesday, there were many moments that will live long in the memory. The most significant of them involved tournament newcomers El Salvador, who stunned Australia to earn their first ever win in a FIFA competition played on grass. Another of the day’s headlines was created by Colombia, who saw off hosts Turkey in front of a vociferous home crowd.
The four results on a day in which the tournament’s first goalless draw was recorded left the qualification picture in Groups C and D unresolved. That said, Colombia, Greece and Paraguay are all well placed to advance, while Turkey, El Salvador and Mali are still very much in the frame. As for Mexico, who have lost two games running for the first time in 12 appearances in the competition, and Australia, their prospects are a good deal gloomier.
Aussie idol in town
Craig Moore, one of the biggest names in Australian football history, was at the Yeni Sehir Stadium in Rize to cheer on the Socceroos. The former Glasgow Rangers man was the third-youngest player to represent his country when he ran out at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Italy 1991 at the tender age of 15 years and months. Out on the pitch today was another precocious Aussie in Daniel de Silva, who last Saturday, and at the age of only 16 years and three months, became the third-youngest player ever to score in the tournament. Though Moore was unable to bring his compatriots any luck, he at least had the satisfaction of running into an old friend in Tugay Kerimoglu, an ex-team-mate of his at Ibrox and now a Turkish Football Association representative.
Size no impediment
Physically stronger and taller than their opponents, Australia looked as if they would have the edge over an El Salvador side with an average height of 5’8. Making light of their smaller stature, however, the Central Americans secured a momentous victory, with their equaliser coming about after the 5’7-tall Kevin Barahona won a header at the far post to allow Diego Coca, two inches shorter than his team-mate, to nod the ball home.
The woodwork had much to do with the fact Paraguay and Mexico could only conjure up one goal between them in their meeting, with no fewer than three efforts on goal hitting post or bar, two of them carbon copies. The first player to go close was Mexico’s Armando Zamorano, who cracked a rebound against the base of the post in the first half, the same fate that befell Paraguay’s Derlis Gonzalez in the second. Late on, Jorge Espericueta almost followed up his delightful strike in El Tri’s first game with another, only for the bar to deny him.
Turkey’s fans put on quite a show in Rize, though the noise in the stands was not enough to unsettle a courageous Colombia side, who won the duel between the competition’s 2011 and 2013 hosts thanks to Juan Quintero’s fine second-half strike. The last time the tournament’s home team fell to defeat in the group phase was in 2009, when Egypt went down to Paraguay.
Sideshows steal the limelight
While Mali’s goalless draw with Greece can hardly be described as the tournament’s most exciting game to date, that does not mean to say the fans were short of entertainment in Gaziantep. Doing his best to bring some life to the occasion was Mali’s animated coach Moussa Keita, who spent the whole game gesticulating and generally making his opinions abundantly clear on the touchline. The other attraction was the bat that spent the entire game flying over the press box.
The stat of the day
25 - The goalless stalemate between Mali and Greece ended a sequence of 25 FIFA U-20 World Cup matches without a 0-0 draw. The last game to end scoreless in the competition was the quarter-final between Portugal and Argentina at Colombia 2011, a match the Portuguese eventually won on penalties.
Feliz por esta victoria. Gracias a toda la gente qe nos apoyo y puso su confianza en nostros. La garra guarani se impuso hoy.#albirrojasub20
— jr alonso #28 (@oa_junior) June 25, 2013
Up next (local times)
Chile-England (Antalya, 18:00)
Iraq-Egypt (Antalya, 21:00)
New Zealand-Uruguay (Bursa, 17:00)
Croatia-Uzbekistan (Bursa, 20:00)