Amine Gouiri scored a brace for the French starlets.
In what was labelled as an easy outing for France as they schooled New Caledonian team with Adil and Gouiri being the main protagonists. France rallied to a 7-1 win against the first-timers in a match that could be described as a one-sided affair.
France started with a 4-4-2 line up playing star striker Amine Gouiri and Willem Geubbels upfront. New Caledonia opted for a more defensive starting eleven with two defensive midfielders Pierre Bako and Neil Wahiobe shielding the defensive line.
French players turmoiled the New Caledonian defence from the word go. Yacine Adli was at his ruthless best as he toyed with the defence making blazing runs on the right wing and was ably assisted by the right back Vincent Collet and the Lyon teammate of Gouiri, Maxence Caqueret.
The first chance of the game came to France in the 5th minute when New Caledonian defence failed to put away a cross and Bernard Iwa putting it in his own net. That own goal was nothing but the start of a flurry of oppressive gameplay. The French youths came very close to doubling the lead through an Adli free-kick which the New Caledonian goalkeeper Une Kecine somehow managed to clear away. For the next twenty-thirty minutes, it was all but beautiful ball distribution by French midfielders Caqueret, Aurelien Tchouameni and Claudio Gomes and excellent runs on the right wing by Adli and Collet.
Gouiri scored his first and second of France in the 20th minute through an Adli’s cross which was built up by an excellent through ball by Caqueret. There was a clear difference in physicality of the two oppositions visible in a match where New Caledonia offered little resistance to the French strikers. France in the next seven minutes forced on-the-line clearances from Bako through Oumar Solet’s and Tchouameni’s headers off brilliantly delivered corners by Adli.
The next thirteen minutes, France scored four times. Gomes, Lyon striker Gouiri and his Lyon teammate Coquerte scored one each while New Caledonia’s Kiam Wanesse scoring the second New Caledonian own goal of the match. New Caledonia completed the first half without managing a single shot on goal while France managed a whopping 14.
France slowed down the intensity in the second half and didn’t attack much, instead tried to keep the ball under their feet. On the 54th minute, Raoul Wenisso of New Caledonia brought French striker Geubbels down in the penalty box to award the opposition a penalty. Caqueret turned up to take the penalty but failed miserably.
New Caledonia’s goalkeeper who had a difficult outing until now was pumped up again after saving the penalty. He further managed to save two-three more good French attacks. The first-timers managed their first shot on target only in the 55th minute of the match when Lionel Thannaena volleyed the ball forcing the French goalkeeper to come into action for the first time in the game.
FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017: France 7-1 New Caledonia
The game slowed down and the New Caledonian players managed to get more time on the ball in the opposition half. The 78th minute of the game saw the substitute, Wilson Isidor, miss an opportunity to increase the lead when his right footed shot missed the left side of the net. In the process of stopping the shot, Kecine injured himself. Though the player was injured he still decided to keep playing as his side had no more available substitutions.
The goalkeeper within a couple of minutes aggravated his injury and wasted almost seven minutes of the game. The New Caledonian staff, bench and players erupted joyfully when they managed to get one consolation goal when Sidri Wadenges managed to nick the ball into the French net on the 90th minute of the game. The assist came through a set-piece by Cyril Nyipie. The French side replied soon to get the six-goal lead back as the substitute Isidor finished the quick counter.
The match ended with a 7-1 victory for France and left New Caledonia players disheartened albeit proudful of the fact that they managed to score the first goal for their nation in any game of FIFA finals.
JAPAN vs HONDURAS
In the other game of the day, Japan defeated Honduras in a yet another scintillating display of attacking football by a team from Group E. The final scoreline was 6-1 in Japan’s favour. This gives Japan three points and puts them second in the group, having the same number of points as that of France but behind them in terms of goal difference. Honduras are third while New Caledonia sit at the last position
FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017: Japan 6-1 Honduras
The next fixtures of this group will be played on 11th of October. France will face Japan while Honduras will square against New Caledonia. Both the games will be played in the same stadium.