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Youth Olympics

Hosts dig deep, Russians impress

(FIFA.com)
Joaquin Hernandez of Argentina reacts after scoring the equalizer against Egypt 
© Getty Images

THE DAY REPLAYED – Stands full to the brim, passionate songs and chants with a distinct Argentinian flavour, and intense, high-quality matches: the opening day of the Men’s Youth Olympic Futsal Tournament Buenos Aires 2018, the sport’s Olympic debut, will live long in the memory.

Arguably the most exciting game came at the culmination of the day, with Argentina snatching a dramatic 2-2 draw with 46 seconds of play remaining in their hotly contested encounter with Egypt. Home fans in the Main Futsal Hall exploded with joy, having practically given up hope that their heroes could mount a late fightback. 

The Africans, full of verve and energy, led by a two-goal margin with under three minutes to go, but La Albiceleste eventually found a way through, helped by their “fly” goalkeeper, who provided an invaluable extra man on several occasion in the final moments.

In the earlier Group A fixture in the Main Hall, Panama and Iraq played out an entertaining 1-1 draw. The match featured dozens of chances, five shots against the post, great saves from both ’keepers and even a missed penalty by the Panamanians shortly before the end. The standing ovation that the two teams received was richly deserved.

In the CeNARD Hall, Russia, among the favourites for the tournament, secured a comfortable 6-1 victory over a courageous Costa Rica team, who fought for every ball and can be proud of their performance. The Argentinian fans got behind their fellow Latin Americans and Los Ticos encouraged them as if they were interacting with their own supporters.

In the subsequent encounter, Iran took their time to test and gauge the challenge posed by the Solomon Islands, before pinpointing gaps in their defence and eventually running out 9-2 winners. The Asians, who appeared extremely well drilled, demonstrated great tactical awareness and preparedness throughout.

Did you know?

  • Jair Ogilvie, the scorer of Panama’s goal in their share of the spoils with Egypt, is the shortest player participating in the men’s tournament. Measuring just 1.42m, the diminutive wing swiftly won over the crowd via his remarkable speed and skills.
  • Russia’s Denis Subbotin was the first goalkeeper to find the net in the tournament, slotting the ball into an empty net after his Costa Rica counterpart had adopted the role of fly ’keeper to support his attack.

What’s next
(8 October)
Russia-Brazil, Group B, Main Futsal Hall
Iraq-Slovakia, Group A, Main Futsal Hall

Russia and Brazil face off in one of the Youth Olympic Futsal Tournament’s most anticipated duels, one which would not look out of place in the semi-finals or final. It will be a testing opening match for the Brazilians, who emerged victorious from the 2018 South American Under-18 Futsal Championship in March.

Slovakia, the other European team to qualify for the competition, will make their debut against an Iraq side that is not to be underestimated.

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