By Samindra Kuni in Cariacica, Brazil
October 28 – Hosts Brazil kicked off the U-17 World Cup with a comfortable 4-1 win over Canada. Nigeria, Angola and Senegal all won their games, but European champions Netherlands suffered a surprise 3-0 defeat by Japan.
In Group A, the Brazilians had little time for their North American opponents in Gama, a satellite city of the capital Brasilia. The hosts had the majority of possession and playmaker Peglow’s brace set Brazil on the way to a 4-1 victory. Canada’s goalkeeper Marc Kouadio ensured that the scoreline didn’t soar with a number of excellent saves.
Nigeria, one of the other tournament favourites, defeated Hungary 4-2 in Group B, but not without difficulty. In a 4-3-3 formation the organised Hungarians kept the West Africans at bay for much of the match and lurked on the counter attack. A late flourish of goals – three strikes between the 79th and 85th minute – were however too much for Hungary to deal with. Nigerian captain Samson Tijani scored twice in the match. On the opening day, debutants Angola grabbed a 2-1 win over New Zealand, setting a positive tone for the African teams.
In Group D, Senegal are also participating in their maiden finals and they got off to a dream start with a resounding 4-1 win over the United States. All eyes were on Dortmund-based Giovanni Reyna, the son of Claudio Reyna, but, instead, after conceding an early header from Gianluca Busio the Senegalese roared back with some splendid football over the wings to overwhelm the United States in the second half, much to the delight of a partisan crowd in Cariacica.
Elsewhere, Japan sprang a surprise against the Netherlands, who as European champions had been expected to lead the European challenge, but the Dutch youngsters came up short against an organised and attacking Japanese side full of flair. The Asian champions ran out 3-0 winners, reconfirming why they have been at the top of the Asian game for so long.
On Monday, African champions Cameroon take on Tajikistan in Group E, seeking to maintain Africa’s perfect record in the competition. In the standout game of the day, Spain will take on Argentina in the same group.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1601202712labto1601202712ofdlr1601202712owedi1601202712sni@o1601202712fni1601202712