6th October 2017
Match 1- NZ vs Turkey
Refree- John Pitti- panama
Coach- Danny Hay- NZ, Mehmet Hacioglu (Turkey)
It was an auspicious start to the group B matches at the beautiful DY Patil Stadium ,Navi Mumbai as the heavens opened up 30 mins before the match started. It has been warm and humid in Mumbai over the week and this could have taken its toll on players, but the mercury dipped just before the starting whistle. Lightening, gusty winds greeted the sparse crowds who had gathered to get a glimpse of the mega event.
The kiwis were in whites and the Turkish team came out with red jerseys. The drizzle got intense as the national anthems of both teams were played.
Former all whites captain Danny Hay is the coach for the kiwis.
The Turkish lads started briskly with an attack in the very first minute as the kiwis were caught napping. The turf played well even as it continued to rain in the first half. Ahmed Kutucu and Malik Karaahmet combined well from the right and kept the kiwi defense busy. The first big moment came for turkey in the 7th minute Atalay Babacans left footer went over the bar. Kiwis came close to opening their account in a surprise counter attack in the 11th minute.
Ahmed Kutucu headed one home in the 19th minute off a corner and opened the account for turkey. The kiwis came close to equalizing in the very next minute but missed. Kutucu picked up a yellow card for a hard tackle in the 23rd minute.
The kiwis fought hard for the next 15 minutes and came close to scoring twice.
The score at half time was Turkey 1-0 NZ
The second half started with a light drizzle. In the 52nd minute, kiwi goalkeeper Jacob Clark made a miraculous save when a sharp left footer from Turkish Captain Recep Gul ricochet off his hand. Atlast the kiwis equalized in the 58th minute when captain Max Mata took advantage of a defensive lapse and scored. Kiwis increased the intensity of the attack as one of their forwards hit the right bar in the 83rd minute. Both the teams resorted to desperate attacks towards the end of the second half.
The match ended in a draw with both teams scoring a goal. Kiwi captain Max Mata picked up 2 yellow cards and will not be playing the next match.
Kiwi coach said he was happy with the teams performance, though he was disappointed with the double yellow for captain Max Mata who will not play the next came. He said that it was a massive leap for the kiwis who play school and local football back home.
Turkish coach was disappointed as he said that they could not play their style of football.
Mali vs Paraguay
The first match of the day at the DY Patil stadium played between New Zealand and Turkey ended in a draw, with both teams scoring a goal each. The drizzle continued South American giants Paraguay took on the African champions Mali.
Paraguay took the lead in the 12th minute with Antonio hit a powerful right footer from almost 30 yards to open the account for his team. He struck again in the 17th minute with a lovely touch leading to the Paraguayan players come into a huddle to celebrate. Paraguay displayed the classic latino football style and caught the Mali defenders napping on several occasions.
Mali replied back strongly with a goal in the 20th minute with forward Hadji Drame turned around quickly and netted one past goalkeeper Diego Huesca. They came close to an equalizer in the very next minute. The counter attacks from both teams were stingy and swift. The fast and furious soccer kept the 5000 odd crowd excited through the game. Mali came close an equalizer again when Lassana Ndiaye’s left footer hit the bar in the 29th minute. They did manage to equalize in the 34th minute when their forward Lassana netted one past Diego Huesca. The constant drizzle made the pitch a bit slippery, but that did not stop both teams from vicious and quick counter attacks.
Goalkeeper Youssouf Koita made a brilliant save in the 35th minute with a corner taken by Paraguay. The ball curled in and the header from the Paraguayan forward was punched by Youssouf. He was kept busy by the Paraguay forwards till the end of the first half.
Paraguay took the lead in the 58th minute when Alan Rodriguez scored off a via a penalty. Both teams continued their relentless attacks in the next 20 minutes. Both goalkeepers made some brilliant saves during this phase. Paraguay won the match 3-2 and made a good start to their world cup campaign. Mali were disappointed finish on the losing side.
But both these teams displayed some solid football and they have become strong contenders in this world cup.
Monday 9th– Mali vs Turkey, NZ vs Paraguay
By Pankaj Athwale for Sportsnasha