LINUS LINDAHL / AIPS* in FUJAIRAH: It took two matches at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 before Russia demonstrated why they were crowned European champions in May – but a 4-0 win against Venezuela may not be enough to send them into the next round.
It was as if the pressure had vanished for Russia’s players in the humidity of Fujairah. Like Venezuela they had taken no points from the two first group matches and were fighting for the third place which might just squeeze them into the Round of 16.
The life or death moment seemed to inspire players like Alexandr Golovin, and Ramil Sheidaev in the first half. Aleksandr Makarov was alone to head the first goal before Golovin exchanged passes with Ramil Sheidaev in midfield before the latter scored. Golovin maintained the pressure when he curled the ball into the net on a freekick just before half time.
Five minutes of normal time remained in the second half when Sheidaev punished goalkeeper Franko Diaz for a handling error to score his second goal of the game, Russia’s fourth.
Venezuela have enjoyed impressive support from relatives and and other fans during the group stage but, without their top scorer from the South American Championship – Andres Ponce – they had problems in attack.
He scored seven goals in the regional championship but, after his age was questioned, he was omitted from coach Rafael Dudamel’s squad.
Other talented players, like midfielder David Zalzman with an history from Barcelona’s youth academy, have not could perform well enough to repay the supporters with points.
Russian coach Dimitry Khomuka and his team arrived in the United Arab Emirates with hopes of challenging for the Cup but, with third-placed teams in other groups having already finished on four points, they must wait in hope until to learn their destiny.
* 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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