Canada’s 1-1 draw against Iran in Group E of the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Dubai is their fourth on the trot in U-17 world finals play. Amazingly, they have not won in 17 straight contests at this tournament and there was an air of the fortunate about the point they picked up today against the talented Persians at the Sheikh Rashid Stadium.
Iran came out stronger in the first half, with the Canadians unable to get much going in attack. Hanson Boakai’s blocked shot after five minutes was the best chance the North Americans would have in the opening period.
Four minutes later, the Iranians took the lead. Amir Mazloum collected a throw-in from the left and laid the ball back for Amirhossein Karimi, who fired a perfect shot into the corner, sparking off wild celebrations in the Iran technical area. Canada did their all to haul themselves back into the game, but they lacked precision in the final third. Jordan Hamilton’s shot after 11 minutes fooled some in the crowd, but it only rippled the outside of the net.
From the 20th minute on, it was all Iran and they were unlucky not to increase their lead. Amirhossein Karimias was denied by the sliding Elias Roubos. Reza Jafari then saw his good shot batted away by goalkeeper Marco Carducci before Saeid Ezatolahi went close with a free-kick.
The Canucks sprang to life early in the second half. A cross from Boakai in the 48th minute was missed by Iran keeper Mahdi Amini and Roubos both, but Hamilton made no mistake slamming home at the back post.
The contest swung back-and-forth from there on out, but Iran had the more dangerous chances to break the deadlock. Twice they hit the woodwork, first through Mohammad Bazaj in the 71st minute and then three minutes later from Majid Hosseini’s vicious shot from distance. In the end, the Canadians were lucky indeed to escape with yet another draw at a FIFA U-17 World Cup and their second point here in UAE. They were out-shot 23-6 on the night in a rather telling statistic.
The Canadians meet Argentina in their next game on 25 October in Dubai, while Iran look to finish strong against the Austrians in Al Ain.