FIFA U17 WC: Kiwis claw back to deflate Turkey

A second half equaliser from Max Mata forced the Turks to settle for a 1-1 draw against New Zealand at the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai on Thursday.

New Zealand forward Max Mata controls the ball, closely followed by Turkey's Emirhan Civelek at the D.Y. Patil Stadium in Mumbai on Friday.   -  RAJANISH KAKADE

A spirited New Zealand forced a draw against a classy Turkey side in the FIFA U-17 World Cup Group B tie at the D Y Patil stadium on Thursday. Max Mata struck the equaliser as the Kiwis turned the tide in the second half after Ahmed Kutucu headed the first goal. The Kiwis deserved to win for a breathtaking counter-attack to leave their rivals breathless.

Match centre

Danny Hay’s focus on building up endurance via multiple training sessions and practise games against Brazil, England almost paid off the champions from the Oceania zone. The Kiwis were unlucky to share points; the post blocked an attempt with the goalkeeper not in the frame.

Mata will miss the next tie after getting a red card for two yellow card offences.

Mehmet Hacioglu’s confidence in Turkey’s technical expertise to get around physical play proved right in an enthralling first-half show of measured passes and mastery on the ball.

Turkey was a strange bunch, flourishing in the first half and floundering in the second. Errors crept in and loss of ball possession turned the heat on custodian Berke Ozer.

Jacob Clark, under the Kiwis bar, got little reaction time as Kutucu scored with a snap header.

Wet welcome for Kiwis

The rains forced hasty re-arrangement of the dugouts — a plastic roof fixed to shelter coaches and players — for the teams. The fans in front rows were at the mercy of nature’s fury. For the players, the feeling was different compared to the heat during training sessions over the past two days.

 

Turkey captain Recep Gul threatened to score twice, once in each half. He cut in from the right, veered to his left to attack, but Clark responded with a superb save the second time the former connected with a right-footed shot on the run.

Mata and Elijah combined to score the equaliser. The latter surprised the defence with a quickly taken free-kick, finding his captain in place on the left for a tap in. The Turkey defenders lost their concentration and allowed the former to nip in for an aerial shot.

Results: New Zealand 1 (Max Mata 58) drew with Turkey 1 (Ahmed Kutucu 18).

Turks in the Bundesliga

Turkey’s status as qualifiers from the powerful European U-17 Championship is enhanced by the presence of four players representing clubs in the Bundesliga. Berk Cetin is a defender with Borussia Monchengladbach, Umut Gunes plays in the midfield for VFB Stuttgart, Ahmed Kutucu (FC Schalke) and Malik Karaahmet (Karlsruher SC) play in the forward line.