THE DAY REPLAYED – The second day of the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 belonged to the North African and Asian hopefuls. In their debut appearance at the tournament, Morocco made the best possible start with a clear-cut victory over Croatia, with Tunisia battling their way to a narrow win over Venezuela, despite going a man down before the first half was done.
It was a successful day for the Asian teams as well. Japan upset the form book with a stunning victory over much-fancied European champions Russia, with Uzbekistan claiming their first three points against Panama.
Group C – Fujairah
Croatia 1-3 Morocco
Panama 0-2 Uzbekistan
Group D – Sharjah
Tunisia 2-1 Venezuela
Russia 0-1 Japan
Tunisian fortress repels all-comers
In the distant past, way back in the year 796, a fortress (Ribat in Arabic) was erected in the Tunisian coastal city of Monastir as an impenetrable bastion against the marauding Byzantine fleet. Coming bang up-to-date, on 18 October 2013, Sabri Ben Hessen became the living embodiment of this unbreachable stronghold as he kept the furious Venezuelans at bay. The Tunisia keeper made two stunning saves to prevent his side falling behind in the opening exchanges, an extraordinary reflex stop at point-blank range from Jose Marquez, and a spectacular diving effort to beat away David Zalzman’s exquisite curler, prompting looks of disbelief on South American faces. Ben Hessen also rode his luck when a Venezuelan shot came back off the post, but he was ultimately one of the major contributors to his team grinding out a hard earned opening-day victory despite playing more than 50 minutes with ten men.
Big performance from the little guy
Kosei Uryu is just 1.65 m tall and smaller than all 21 players in the Russian squad, but the Japan striker turned in a superb display against the tall east Europeans. With quarter of an hour on the clock, Uryu steadied himself and let fly from 25 yards, crashing the ball past Russia keeper Anton Mitryushkin and just under the crossbar to hand the Asians the lead and ultimately the points. It was a superb goal surely destined to appear in many a highlights compilation.
Foretaste of the Club World Cup
The FIFA Club World Cup 2013 takes place in Morocco this December – and the fans in Fujairah enjoyed a sneak preview of the atmosphere certain to surround the big event in the North African kingdom at the end of the year. A good crowd of travelling Moroccans, including fans of Club World Cup hopefuls Raja Casablanca, backed their U-17 starlets with noisy and colourful support. A musical accompaniment was provided on the oud, a traditional Arabian instrument related to the lute. Seemingly inspired by the typical sounds of home, the young Moroccans made a dream start to their adventure at the U-17 World Cup.
1 – In their seventh appearance at a U-17 World Cup, Japan finally posted a maiden victory over a European team, but for the Russians, it was their first defeat at this series of tournaments. The former Soviet Union marched undefeated to be world title in 1987.
"We can certainly be critical and say my team could have done one or two things much better. But the lads gave a very good account of themselves and survived with ten men against a Venezuelan team who were worthy representatives of South American football," Tunisia coach Abdelhay Ben Soltane.
Canada-Austria (Dubai, 17:00)
Iran-Argentina (Dubai, 20:00)
Mexico-Nigeria (Al Ain, 17:00)
Iraq-Sweden (Al Ain, 20:00)