THE DAY REPLAYED – Two tournament debutants took their bows on Monday at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico. Panama, just days on from their senior team shocking USA in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, made the fans back home proud again with a first-ever win in the competition, 1-0 against African champions Burkina Faso. Denmark, who many ranked as outside bets to win here in Mexico, failed to start with the same kind of bang as the Canaleros, however, losing out 3-0 to three-time champions Brazil despite putting together moments of stylish football.

Like their African neighbours Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire failed to hit the high notes, blowing an early lead and losing out to Australia, who celebrated their 40th U-17 World Cup contest with a win. Germany were at their ferocious best, marking their arrival at the finals with a 6-1 thumping of poor Ecuador.

Germany 6-1 Ecuador
Brazil 3-0 Denmark
Australia 2-1 Côte d’Ivoire
Burkina Faso 0-1Panama

Goal of the day

Wallace 57’, Brazil-Denmark
The right-back defender had himself a night to remember as he was the unlikely goalscorer between two Ademilson efforts in Brazil’s 3-0 win over Denmark. Showing tremendous strength, the defender raced up the right side, collected an incisive through-ball from Ademilson and ghosted past his man into the box. He took a gentle touch before slamming into the roof of the net at the near post. The marauding run and finish revived echoes of great Brazilian wing-backs past and present like Roberto Carlos, Cafu, Dani Alves and Maicon.

Memorable moments

Germany’s scorching 36
Up only 1-0 at half-time of their contest in Queretaro, the Germans even let the South Americans bag a 51st-minute equaliser before they turned on their irresistible style at the Estadio Corregidora, the very same ground where the former West Germany played all of their group matches en route to the final of the FIFA World Cup™ Mexico 1986. Scoring five goals without reply in the space of just 36 minutes, the young Mannschaft stunned both the crowd and the rest of the competition, who are sure to take note of the direct and efficient approach preferred by the European contenders.

Hearts throb for Brazil’s teen idol
Fidgeting packs of young girls in the crowd in Guadalajara could hardly control themselves, squealing with delight each time Brazilian phenom Lucas Piazon touched the ball. With a potent combination of good looks, charm and undeniable panache on the pitch, it looks like Piazon – who has already signed a contract that will take him to Chelsea after these finals – is on his way to emulating his own personal football idol, one Ricardo Kaka of AC Milan and Real Madrid fame. In the end, though, it was Ademilson who stole the show, the Sao Paulo ace scoring twice after only recently muscling his way into Emerson Avila’s startling XI.

African rhythms reign despite reverses

Africa’s four combatants have brought their pulsating and infection rhythms all the way to Mexico. Burkina Faso’s red and green-clad fans in Queretaro never let up banging their drums, even as their heroes were beaten by debutants Panama. Côte d’Ivoire didn’t turn up with a travelling band of their own, but their cool brand of football had the young school children in attendance in Guadalajara clapping, singing and roaring on their adopted Elephants, who also ended up on the wrong end of the result. Yesterday, Rwanda’s travelling supporters were dancing not only in the stands, but back at the Camino Real Hotel long into the night, even though their side lost their first-ever FIFA finals contest. Congo’s opening-day win was infectious too, with the fans in Morelia chanting and singing the free-wheeling skill merchants from the mother continent on to their first win in FIFA finals history.

The stat
6 –
The number of goals scored by Germany against Ecuador in Queretaro, the most in a single game here at these Mexican finals. The result surely puts Germany out in front as one of the favourites to lift the trophy for the first time. “We played with German virtues,” said beaming coach Steffen Freund after the final whistle, “we showed heart, passion and everyone helped each other on the pitch.”

Up next
21 June 2011
Korea DPR-Netherlands (Morelia 15.00)
Japan-France (Monterrey 15.00)
Mexico-Congo (Morelia 18.00)
Jamaica-Argentina (Monterrey 18.00)