WISSAM DEHBI / AIPS* in ABU DHABI: A Swedish team who were unrated at the start of the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 made history of their own after securing third place on their first appearance in the finals.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter was in the crowd in Abu Dhabi to see the unbridled delight of the Swedish players and Roland Larsson’s coaching staff after they won the ‘small final’ .

Larsson made two changes from the team beaten in the semi-finals by Nigeria, bringing in Ali Suljic and Carlos Strandberg who were not among previous first choice.

Argentina started without two of their key players in this tournament in goalkeeper Augusto Batalla and defender Joaquin Ibanez. Both were suspended after having been sent off in the semi-final defeat by Mexico.

Swedish needed little time before taking control and scoring the first goal through star striker Valmir Berisha after a defensive mistake.

Argentina struggled to respond and maintain possession while Sweden gained in confidence especially Gustav Engvall who dribbled past two defenders on the right side in the 20th minute and crossed for Strandberg to score a second goal.

Four minutes later the outstanding Engvall created more problems when he shot against a post; Berisha thumped the loose ball into the net.

Argentina created their first chance in the 41st minute when Rodrigo Moreira headed against the bar and had more luck two minutes later when Lucio Compagnucci headed into goal.

In the second half the Argentinian coach, Humberto Grondona, obliged to push his team forward in pursuit of more goals replaced striker Matias Sanchez with Cristian Pavon.

All to no vail. Instead Sweden scored their fourth goal through Berisha who thus completed his hat-trick and took over as the tournament’s seven-goal top scorer.


* 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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