After a pulsating 22 days of action culminated in England clinching the coveted FIFA U-17 World Cup title, Firstpost asked its football correspondents and freelancers to weigh in on what they thought were the best moments of the edition, the standout player of the tournament and the biggest disappointment of the World Cup. Here's what they picked as their most memorable moment/moments:
Shivam Damohe, Firstpost staff writer
Watching Brazil play is one thing. But watching a Brazil versus Germany clash is something else. A classic in itself that attracted more than 66,000 spectators at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharthi Krirangan Stadium in Kolkata. The deafening roar was proof of how this quarter-final clash received a treatment worthy of a final. Fans went berserk since the time the referee blew the whistle signalling the start of the match. And the match? When two technically sound teams collide, there is only going to be pure entertainment. Even for the tacticians.
The game ended in Brazil's favour as the Samba Boys came from a goal down to sweep the dominant junior Nationalmanschaft aside, courtesy wonderstrikes from Weverson and Paulinho in the second half. It was a game of two halves and I would be lying if I said that the attacking football both the teams produced was not a treat to watch. Also, it wasn't just about the fans but the occasion. Many forgot that this was a FIFA U-17 World Cup game and not the actual senior World Cup. That's what Brazil versus Germany does to you.
Amit Kamath, Firstpost staff writer
This was a World Cup which marked many firsts. India hosting their first-ever FIFA World Cup. India scoring their first-ever World Cup goal. Niger playing in their first-ever World Cup at any age group. Niger scoring their first-ever win to make it to the knockout stages. England winning their first U-17 World Cup title.
But what really was a moment to savour was New Caledonia holding Japan to a 1-1 draw, a result which must feel like a personal triumph for the islanders. After all, in their first two matches of the tournament, New Caledonia — a collection of islands tucked away in the Pacific Ocean some 1200 kilometres from Australia — had been trounced 1-7 by France and 5-0 by Honduras. Yes, Japan played a much-changed side than their first XI. Yes, Japan hit the woodwork twice. But for a country with no professional football clubs, a draw against an Asian heavyweight was a minor miracle. This was, to use a sports cliche, a draw which felt like victory.
Sreya Mazumder, Freelance journalist
Be it debutant Niger’s first win in Kochi or New Caledonia’s first ever point — the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup was filled with emotionally charged moments for football fans across the globe. But it was Jeakson Singh’s historic goal at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi which will be the watershed moment for Indian football for generations to come.
As the 17-year-old midfielder from Manipur leapt between two Colombian defenders to guide Sanjeev Stalin’s corner into the net, it felt like a dream come true for the eleven players on the pitch and the millions of Indians tuning in. The sense of jubilation across the nation, the adulation showered on the players, the feeling of pride soaring in every Indian’s heart were all bound by one moment — India had arrived in a FIFA World Cup.
While lakhs of fans flocked to stadiums all around the country making the World Cup a resounding success, the Indian teenagers had played their heart out in spite of three defeats and it was Jeakson’s goal which validated every bit of effort which had gone into making India’s FIFA World Cup dream a reality.
Priyansh, Freelance journalist
It is rare to see an away side find home support during a World Cup. But wherever Brazil went, the team’s popularity was unquestionable. It is the football culture which the nation represents and the success that came with it that many in India are keen to lap up. Good old ‘third world’ solidarity.
The high point of Brazil’s campaign was its remarkable comeback win over Germany in the quarters. There were few supporters for Die Mannschaft among the 66,413 people who turned up to watch the thrilling encounter at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata. Cheered on by an overwhelmingly partisan crowd, Brazil overcame Germany thanks to two stunning strikes in the space of seven minutes. The second of those goals, a 20-yard swerving thunderbolt by Paulinho, had the spectators going berserk.
There were many great goals in the tournament but very few moments when the crowd rose in unison to claim catharsis. The reaction to Paulinho’s strike was comparable only to Jeakson Singh’s goal for India earlier in the tournament. But for a visiting side to evoke such support was of precious significance. In that moment, Brazil found a home.
Kaushal Shukla, Firstpost staff writer
Phil Foden might have been awarded the Golden Ball prize after England beat Spain in the final to win the World Cup, but the greatest acknowledgement of his talent came during the semi-final when the Salt Lake Stadium, packed to its capacity, gave the Manchester City youngster a standing ovation after he was substituted in the second half.
The Kolkata crowd had made their loyalties clear right from the start. Every Brazilian attack was cheered, while any phase of English possession was met with whistles and jeers. England faced a hostile atmosphere at the Salt Lake until the Kolkata crowd’s love for the game took over. Resigned to the class of the Foden, the partisan crowd wholeheartedly applauded the English youngster for his efforts. The crowd went back to supporting the Samba Boys thereafter, but Foden forced the football fan in the people to rise above their adopted loyalty.
Manas Mitul, Freelance journalist
An obvious choice here. The moment Jeakson Singh leapt in the air to meet Sanjeev Stalin's corner, creating history in the process: India's first goal in a World Cup at any age group. The sound in the stadium when Jeakson scored is probably still reverberating in the heart of every football fan in India. It was a thumping header too.
There were little pockets of positivity in how a young Indian team played in the tournament. Dheeraj Singh's impressive display between the posts and Jeakson's goal shine brightest of all. Another standout moment that begs mention is Iran trouncing Germany 4-0 in the group stages. It wasn't just the fact that Iran beat Germany, but also the manner of the victory, which was so unexpected. Germany were utterly outclassed in every department and Iran sent out a statement to the rest of the favourites.
Swapnaneel Parasar, Freelance journalist
Even before the first ball was kicked, Chile descended upon Kolkata and head coach Hernan Caputto was forced to conduct an impromptu roadside press conference for the media after a training session. Amidst the on looking pedestrians and hustling traffic, the Chileans already had scored a moral goal over Indian hearts when Caputto mentioned they watched the Shah Rukh Khan starrer-Chak De India! for inspiration. On the field, it had to be the exemplary turnaround by the Young Lions after going two goals down in a World Cup final.
Updated Date: Oct 31, 2017 14:55:51 IST