ALAN VACCARO / AIPS* in DUBAI: Neither Canada nor Iran could take command of Group E at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 after finishing all-square at 1-1. The Iranians deserved to win but were denied by the posts and Canada’s goalkeeper-captain Marco Carducci.
The first half offered little by way of drama. Iran grabbed an early goal after nine minutes thanks to a powerful 25m drive from Amirhossein Karimi. They continued to control the game until half-time even though Canada reacted encouragingly but lacked penetration near goal.
Canada deserved their equaliser three minutes into the second half thanks to a mistake by Iranian goalkeeper Mahdi Amini. He failed to cut out a left-wing cross from Hanson Boakai which skimmed off the head of Elias Roubos and Jordan Hamilton took punishing advantage.
The game grew more intense and scrappy but slowly Iran pressed the Canadians back into their own half and had four clear chances to take the lead. First came a fine move by Mazloum only for his shot to beat the Carducci but hit the post – as did a superb long-range shot from captain Majid Hosseini.
Carducci then established himself without doubt as the man of the match, saying twice in one-on-one situations to denying Iran a last-minute winner.
Canada’s coach, Sean Fleming, considered that “we did our best against very good opponents” and was satisfied that his team’s destiny in the tournament remained in their own hands ahead of the last round of group matches.
Iranian coach Ali Doustimehr was hopeful of reaching the knockout stage because “even before playing these two games I knew it was going to be very difficult.”
* AIPS, the international sports journalists association, is running a Young Reporters course at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 with the support of the local organising committee and FIFA
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