NATIONAL Under-17 football team, Serengeti Boys staged a major comeback to beat Australia 3-2 at the UEFA ASSIST U-17 International tournament in Antalya, Turkey yesterday.
Prolific striker, Kelvin John scored a brace, while Edson Mshirakandi netted one as Serengeti Boys registered their first victory in the tournament.
Serengeti Boys fell behind in the 13th minute, when Australia’s Michael Ruhs found the back of the net but Oscar Mirambo charges pulled level just three minutes later through a spot kick converted by Kelvin John.
Australia stepped up their game as Serengeti Boys pulled the legs of gas and a minute before the interval the young Socceroos netted the second through Noah Boatic. The goal follows a string of crisp passing game by the Australians, who were exploiting well the left side as defenders struggled in marking.
Serengeti Boys were hitting long balls forward, which gave them hard time because Australia had much taller defenders, who easily cleared the danger.
After the break, Coach Mirambo came with a much improved tactics as Serengeti Boys opted to put the ball on the floor and made some telling forays in their opponent’s domain. John deservedly netted the second in the 84th minute, to pull level once again before hitting the winner through Mshirakandi with three minutes to go.
Serengeti Boys launched their campaign at the tournament on a back foot, after a 1-0 loss to Guinea in their debut match on Monday.
Guinea’s Conte Aboubacar scored the only goal of the match in the 26th minute, which survived until the end of normal period of play.
The game, however, lacked intensity since it was played on the waterlogged pitch, thereby denying the talented young players to showcase their hidden potentials as far as football is concerned.
The event features teams from three continents – Angola, Cameroon, Guinea, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda from the Confederation of African Football (CAF); Australia, which belongs to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC); and Belarus, Montenegro and Turkey, representing UEFA.
UEFA ASSIST thus provides support for member associations and confederations in four specific areas – education and knowledge-sharing, development of youth football, supporting infrastructure projects and assisting UEFA’s member associations.
UEFA ASSIST tournament has no champion as they are arranged to promote youth football and help to identify key talents from the young players. In view of this, all teams will play three matches before returning back to their respective countries.
“This initiative is part of the UEFA ASSIST programme, which aims to share knowledge and best practice and to offer assistance to UEFA’s sister confederations and their member associations,” said UEFA’s head of national associations’ international relations Eva Pasquier.
Serengeti Boys are using the tournament as part and parcel of their preparations for the approaching Under-17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) slated to take off in the country from April 14th to 28th this year.