FIFA U17 WC: Kochi Witnesses History as Niger Edge Past the Koreans
Niger began their FIFA U-17 World Cup campaign on a high as they beat DPR Korea 1-0 in their opening match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi on Saturday. This was Niger’s first appearance in FIFA U-17 World Cups.
Salim Abdourahmane and Ibrahim Boubacar lead the line for Niger in what seemed like a traditional 4-4-2 with two banks of four stacked in behind the strikers.
Kim Hwi Hwang and Kwon Nam Hyok were the frontmen for Korea, as they matched their opponents’ formation right from the start. It was worth noting that Niger adopted a traditional 4-4-2 approach whereas Koreans formed a hybrid version of the same.
The two Niger forwards threaten the Korean defence early on in the game, with Boubacar going close in the ninth minute of the game after latching onto a long diagonal from midfield. The end product, however, was disappointing.
Following a suspect opening ten minutes of the match for the Korean defence, skipper Yun Min took matters into his own hands as he cut in from the left flank and attempted a long shot from outside the box which flew wide of the post.
In the 14th minute, Kim Hwi Hwang had the perfect opportunity put on a plate for him as he met a free kick with his head but the forward had moved to an offside position
Korea grew confident on the ball as the first half wore on but the football on show in front of either goal was inefficient.
Niger skipper Rachid Alfari suffered an injury in the 28th minute and had to be replaced by Kader Aboubacar. A few minutes later, Korea’s Kung Jin Song also suffered the same fate, as he had to be replaced by Ri Kang Guk. Substitute Kader Aboubacar almost added a third to Korea’s injury list when he produced a horrible tackle on his opponent for which he was punished with a yellow card.
Abdourahmane twisted and turned inside the box on the stroke of half-time but Sin Kwang Sok interfered at the right time to force the ball away from the striker and out of danger. The game remained goalless at the break.
After the interval, it was the African debutants that looked more convincing as an attacking unit. This resulted in an historical moment just before the hour mark.
Some good work on the right flank by Habibou Sofiane allowed him to find an unmarked Abdourahmane in the Korea DPR box. With time to pick his spot, the Junior Menas striker slotted his shot past Young Chollima goalkeeper Sin Tae-Song for a 1-0 lead.
Abdourahmane proved a real handful for the Korea DPR defence and was unlucky not find the scoresheet again. He forced a good save from Sin before narrowly missing the target moments later.
For a World Cup debutant, Niger looked unbelievably composed and unperturbed on the pitch. Korea were subdued in attack and unconvincing in defence for most of the game. First-half replacement Ri Kang Guk had to be replaced again in the second half as the coach tried to work things out for his team but it was not to be.
There were cramps all around the pitch as the game neared the final whistle and as a result, there were seven additional minutes. Niger held on for the final few minutes of the game to register their first ever World Cup in their first ever game at this stage.
Niger: Khaled Lawali, Farouk Idrissa, Djibrilla Ibrahim, Rachid Soumana (Mahamadou Mahamane 77’), Ibrahim Namata, Yachine Wa Massamba, Habibou Sofiane, Rachid Alfari(Kader Aboubacar 29’), Karim Tinni, Ibrahim Boubacar(Hamid Galissoune 88’), Salim Abdourahmane
Korea DPR: Sin Tae Song, Sin Kwang Sok, Kim Kyong Sok, Cha Kwang, Han Kyong Hun, Kung Jin Song(Ri Kang Guk 34’)(Kim Pom Hyok79’), Kye Tam, Yun Min, Kim Chung Jin, Kim Hwi Hwang(Paek Kwang Min 82’), Kwon Nam Hyok