Tombides on target

Dylan Tombides netted the winning goal as Australia kicked-off their FIFA Under-17 World Cup challenge with a 2-1 victory over Ivory Coast.

The Joeys looked to be in trouble when Souleymane Coulibaly put the African nation ahead after just 18 minutes of their Group F clash in the Mexican city of Guadalajara.

However, led by the West Ham United striker, the Australians roared back after half-time, levelling matters through Jesse Makarounas six minutes after the break.

Tombides then took centre-stage, latching on to the loose ball before beating one defender and slamming it low into the net past goalkeeper Yored Konate.


Australia had surrendered more possession and territory to their opponents and were out-shot 21 to 12, but thanks to the 17-year-old forward, they were able to celebrate a success in their 40th U17 World Cup finals match.

Joesy coach Jan Versleijen admitted the Ivory Coast had been superior in many departments, but was quick to praise the spirit shown by his players in turning the match around - and Tombides in particular.

"If you look at the game, Ivory Coast were absolutely the better team. What I can say is that my teams worked very hard and played as a unit. The few chances that we got, we took full advantage of them.

"Normally, if you play a game like we played against a team like the Ivorians, you would lose.

"You can see Dylan has great skills, he is strong on the ball. He is technically good with his left and right foot. He is a key promising player.

"At half-time we spoke about trying to use Dylan more, supply him a bit more and give him decent balls to make the change."

The Joeys will need to up their game when they face Brazil in their second group-stage fixture in Guadalajara on Thursday. The South Americans looked in impressive form as they opened their tournament with a 3-0 victory over Denmark.

However, with a victory and three points of their own under their belts, Tombides and his team-mates will go into the biggest match of their lives full of confidence.

*Blair Turgott's England began their own FIFA U17 World Cup campaign with a 2-0 win over Rwanda on Sunday. The Young Lions return to Group C action on Wednesday, when they face Canada in Pachuca. An exclusive interview with Turgott will appear on in the build-up to the game.