The 2015 Under-20 World Cup kicked off in New Zealand on Saturday, affording the bribery and corruption scandals, detention/investigation and election among top Fifa functionaries a lull just for football sake.
Over 20,000 tickets were sold for the opening game between hosts New Zealand and Ukraine, attracting a record crowd to the North Harbour stadium.
The Junior All Whites opened their campaign with a goalless draw against the Europeans despite second-half attempts by the likes of Clayton Lewis, Noah Billingsley and Sam Brotherton.
Favourites Argentina forced an ambitious Panama side to a 2-2 draw. Argentine skipper Angel Correa grabbed a brace but the South Americans’ undoing was failing to put the game to bed when opportunities had presented itself.
Panama leveled scores through Jhamal Rodriguez and Fidel Escobar within five minutes interval of each other. Carlos Small failed to snatch victory for the Central Americans 4 minutes from time when left one-on-one with goalkeeper Augusto Batalla.
United States came back from a goal down to winning debutantes Myanmar 2-1 in Group A. Yah Naing Oo opened scoring for Myanmar but Naki Tall and captain Emerson Hyndman pulled the Americans in front.
Ghana avoided an opening day defeat by forcing Austria to a 1-1 draw in Wellington. The Black Satellites trailed Austria for much of the second half courtesy of Bernd Gschweidl’s opener few minutes after the break, but Manchester City’s Under-21 striker Yaw Yeboah rescued a point for the West Africans on the nick of full-time.