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vendredi 25 février 2011

Costa Rica win U-17 opener…US share pole position with Group ‘A’ win

The United States and Costa Rica, two of the teams fancied to qualify for Mexico, made winning starts Monday in the CONCACAF Under-17 World Cup, got underway at the Catharine Hall Stadium.

The Americans got off to a rousing start, by stomping their class on Cuba in a stirring 3-1 win, while Costa Rica recorded a similar 3-1 victory over Haiti in the curtain raiser.
The Haitians, found favour with the small crowd on hand for the opening encounter and had it going easy in the opening stages out-muscling the Central Americans.
“We had a planned trip to Argentina cancelled and that played a part in us not having sufficient match practice. We only had one game before the tournament against Jamaica,” Wilmer Etienne, Haiti Coach said through an interpreter.
That was not the script, however, in the first 15 minutes, as the Haitians pinned the Costa Ricans inside their own half, allowing them little room to spread passes.
Costa Rica goalkeeper, Pedro Roman, had to pull off a smart save diving low to his right to stop a rasping shot from Mardochee Pompee in the 11th minute.
Costa Rica responded with a well-timed run into the Haitian half, which resulted in the opening goal, when a corner kick found the head of the versatile William Quiroz and his looping header in the 23rd minute was misjudged by Wendy Thoby in goal for Haiti and lodged into the upper left side of the net.
Haiti never had to wait long and quickly was back on par only a minute after conceding the opener from a torrid left-footed drive from Johnley Chery which ruffled the net in the 24th minute.
On minute 38, Costa Rican, John Ruiz’s mazy dribble inside the Haitian’s penalty area almost got the desired result, but held the ball too long, giving just enough time for Thoby to come off his line and smother the ball at his feet.
Gabriel Leiva then restored the Costa Rican lead in the 44th minute. The Captain lashed in a brilliant free kick from some 25 yards out to make the game 2-1, heading into the halftime break. Two minutes into the second half, they added their third when Ruiz blasted his shot into the goal from just outside the area.
They again came close in the 50th minute but this time Haiti’s Thoby saved spectacularly, diving full stretch to his right to pluck the ball out of the air.
Haiti could have scored second in the 53rd minute as the game opened up, but the attempt by team captain, Benchy Estama flew wide of the mark.
In the second game, Cuba dominated throughout against a static US team that still managed to come away with the win, thanks to goals from Alfred Karoma, who scored the only goal in the first half in the 27th minute.
The burly striker gave the US the lead following up on a good block by Sandy Sanchez in goal for Cuba. He parried a stinging shot from Dillon Serna for Karoma to run unto.
The Americans went further ahead in the second half when Andrew Oliver made it 2-0, then dangerman, Esteban Rodriguez made it 3-0, before Frank Lopez pulled one back for the Cubans.
-Additional reporting by Craig Oates
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