- Five more teams booked their places in the Round of 16 on Saturday
- Group E final standings: France (9 points), Japan (4), Honduras (3), New Caledonia (1)
- Group F final standings: England (9), Iraq (4), Mexico (2), Chile (1)
DAY REPLAYED – Five more teams joined England in completing the Round of 16 picture at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017, with France, Honduras, Iraq, Japan, and Mexico all securing their spots on Saturday as the group stage concluded.
In Group E, France suffered no disruption in their performance levels after comfortably defeating Honduras in Guwahati, despite making eight changes to their line-up. Both sides advance to the knockout stages, along with Japan, whose makeshift line-up were stunned by a late New Caledonia equaliser in Kolkata.
England made sure they claimed top spot in Group F with an emphatic four-goal victory over Iraq following the islanders’ point. Mexico joined those two sides in the last 16 after a goalless draw with Chile back in Guwahati – the first 0-0 result in the competition.
What we learned
1. Going out on a high. India 2017 has been as steep learning curve for the young footballers from New Caledonia. After heavy defeats to France and Honduras, the Oceania side were given little chance of claiming something from Saturday’s clash with Japan in Kolkata. Yet, after conceding an early Keito Nakamura goal, the Pacific islanders showed tremendous spirit and endeavour in scoring a late equaliser through Jekob Jeno. In claiming their first-ever point in a FIFA competition, it was no surprise that New Caledonia celebrated the draw like a victory at the final whistle.
2. Staubli takes charge. Saturday’s Group E finale between Japan and New Caledonia was a unique moment in development of women’s football, as Esther Staubli became the first female referee to officiate a match at India 2017. The native of Switzerland is also the first female in 16 years to officiate a FIFA U-17 World Cup match. At Trinidad and Tobago 2001, Korea Republic referee Im Eunju took charge of the Group B clash between France and USA.
3. Gouiri keeps on scoring. Even as a substitute, France’s Amine Gouiri found a way to keep himself at the top of the India 2017 scoring charts with his fifth goal of the tournament. He came off the bench to score his side’s fourth goal in the win over Honduras. The five scored by Les Bleuets on Saturday also keeps France top of the team goalscoring list with 14.
The stat of the day
5 – the number of defenders Chile deployed in their starting line-up versus Mexico – a match they needed to win to remain in the competition. Their opponents, meanwhile, deployed a more positive approach by playing three strikers, despite only needing to draw the contest in Guwahati.
“This is a proud moment and a big day for the whole country. It is a huge feeling. Before the tournament, the expectations weren’t high. We wanted to persist. Japan is an important team in football, so it is a big event for us and the team. Today, they showed what they really can do. This [U-17] World Cup will bring football in New Caledonia to a new level.”
New Caledonia coach Dominique Wacalie