The match between the All Whites and The Crescent-Stars kick-started on a cloudy note as Navi Mumbai witnessed drizzles at the DY Patil Stadium on Friday evening.
New Zealand’s Oliver Whyte, who scored in the practice game against England a few days back, was pushed to the bench after he suffered a knock at the same match. As for the Turks, Recep Gul led the side which opted for a 4-3-3 formation against an opposition who lined up in a 4-1-3-2 shape.
The Turkish side overpowered their opponents in the beginning as the midfield of Mehmet Hacioglu’s team pushed up-front. It was in the seventh minute that his young guns came close to registering the first goal when Melih Gokcimen’s cross from the left hit the mesh of the goalpost. Moments later, when the ball was fed to Atalay Babacan, the Galatasaray midfielder shot from a close range however his attempt flew over the target.
Four minutes later, the team from OFC bounced back well as Kingsley Sinclair’s attempt, from outside the box, missed the target by a couple of inches; a build-up which was initiated by skipper Max Mata and midfielder Elijah Just.
It was in the 19th minute that the deadlock was broken; Turkey’s number 7 Ahmed Kutucu headed the ball into the back of the net, hereby beating his marker as well as New Zealand’s goalkeeper Jacob Clark. It was the first goal of the 2017 edition of FIFA U-17 World Cup.
The lads in white came close to leveling things up twice but lack of precision in their efforts meant that the two sides entered the tunnel at the half-time whistle on a 0-1 scoreline in the favour of the European contingent.
The second-half brought a bright phase for New Zealand as they registered the equalizing goal just around the one hour mark. A free-kick for Danny Hay’s side saw Max Mata get the final ball which was slotted past Turkey’s custodian Berke Ozer.
The squad from Oceania, contrary to their initial half, looked much stronger in the last half an hour. Constant efforts to pull off a comeback win were witnessed from the 2017 OFC U-17 champions.
The fixture ended on a 1-1 scoreline at the full-time whistle as each side exited with a point each in their pockets from Group B’s first fixture.