THE DAY REPLAYED – The iconic Estadio Nacional drew the eyes of the world for the second time in a matter of months, with the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup’s Opening Ceremony and the hosts’ first match displaying a symbol of national pride still strong after July’s Copa America triumph in the same venue. In a nod to the rest of the tournament, there was also intriguing action in Coquimbo, with the capital now passing the baton on to Chile’s regions after a fascinating opening day.
England and Guinea faced off in the tournament’s first match, which saw a battle of two goalkeepers. England’s Alfie Whiteman was called in for the injured No1 Paul Woolston, and staked his claim to keep the jersey. He produced a string of stunning saves, including a particularly important one-on-one stop against Ives Camara. Guarding the Guinean net, Moussa Camara saved Marcus Edwards’ first-half penalty, which proved vital later in the game as Naby Bangoura equalised Hinds’ header.
Holders Nigeria powered past USA with a strong performance. Goalless at the break, Emmanuel Ameneke cajoled his team into a more clinical second half showing, with Chukwudi Agor’s strike followed soon after by Victor Osimhen’s calmly delivered effort. Auston Trusty had an afternoon to forget, after his scuffed clearance led to Agor’s opener, he was then dismissed in the closing stages.
Korea Republic claimed a historic victory against Brazil, in a game that exploded into life in the final ten minutes. Jang Jaewon’s superbly-worked goal was followed by a red card for Brazil’s Geovane, leaving the Koreans top of Group B after the opening round.
Jorge Sampaoli watched on in the stadium in which he had lifted the Copa America just a few months previously, as the next generation of talented Chilean youngsters hoped to embark on a title-winning journey of their own. A stirring a capella version of the Himno Nacional de Chile by the lively crowd inspired the hosts to a hard-working 1-1 draw, before Chile's President Michelle Bachelet personally congratulated the players on their point in the dressing room after the match.
England 1-1 Guinea (Group B)
Nigeria 2-0 USA (Group A)
Brazil 0-1 Korea Republic (Group B)
Chile 1-1 Croatia (Group A)
Goal of the day
Brazil 0-1 Korea Republic, Jang Jaewon (79)
This goal was scored by Jang, but a large chunk of the credit must go to Kim Jinya. Korea Republic's No14 picked the ball up on his side's right, nutmegged Lincoln before skipping past another challenge and feeding Lee Sangheon by the byline. The No8 twisted and delivered the ball into the penalty area for the waiting Jang to slam home and round off a superb team goal.
Una fiesta en nuestra cancha
The official slogan summed up the Opening Ceremony perfectly, with the Estadio Nacional pitch hosting a wonderful party of colour, rhythm and symbolic performances. A song titled ‘La tempestad’ (‘The Tempest’), was performed, representing the rawness and force of new generations. The nation’s regions were also represented, with a hymn from the north in honour of the Chilean battle against the recent natural disasters. With banners and flags from all 24 nations at Chile 2015 then making their way into the stadium, DJ Mendez got the party started with the perfectly-titled official song of the tournament: “La Fiesta.”
An opening goal born in north London
England had a particular corner of north London to thank for the opening goal of the tournament, which came after an inspired stop by another player from that part of the world – Tottenham’s Alfie Whiteman – had kept the score level against Guinea. Arsenal winger Chris Willock produced a pinpoint cross into the Guinean penalty area and his club team-mate Hinds displayed admirable ‘hang-time’ before nodding past Moussa Camara.
More history for the Tribuna Sur
There is a very special place in Chilean history for the goal in front of the Tribuna Sur at the Estadio Nacional, after Alexis Sanchez’s cheeky ‘Panenka’ penalty kick secured the 2015 Copa America title in July. Another chapter was written in the U-17 World Cup’s Opening Match, with Yerko Leiva lifting the roof off the famous stadium with his leveller in the hosts’ game against Croatia. A wonderful ‘no look’ pass by Luciano Diaz slipped in the onrushing No8, who finished with a calmness that belied his years.
1 – Korea Republic are the first Asian side to defeat Brazil at the U-17 World Cup, an AFC team victorious at the 16th time of asking.
Well done our dear super eagles and the u17 eaglet.thats a good way to start and keep winning.we will keep praying and supporting you
— Kanu Nwankwo (@papilokanu) October 17, 2015
Sunday 18 October
Australia-Germany (Group C)
Belgium-Mali (Group D)
Mexico-Argentina (Group C)
Honduras-Ecuador (Group D)