FIFA U17 World Cup: FIFA and LOC clarify whether first semifinal will be shifted from Guwahati or not
The first quarter-final of the FIFA U17 World Cup staged in Guwahati amidst heavy rainfall was a spectacle to forget in the soggy playing conditions. Despite Mali beating Ghana 2-1, the game itself was in doubt as one of the teams objected to playing in such circumstances but after the match officials inspected the field and made sure that the ball passed the minimum rolling criteria according to FIFA Standards and the field markings were properly visible, they decided to go ahead and start the game.
After the gruelling 90 minutes of football that was on display by the two African teams Ghana and Mali, the pitch looked like it had a few beatings. Now, rumours have emerged that the semi-final clash stated for 25th October could be shifted from Guwahati.
Truth be told, the playing surface of the IGA Stadium in Guwahati is one of the best in the country and even after 90 minutes, it didn't look as bad as it is being portrayed. Yes, the ball did hold up in two places of the pitch yesterday one towards the left of the halfway line and one towards the right of the halfway line.
Otherwise, the pitch was suitable for playing football on a rainy day. One just needs to play a replay of the first goal Mali scored to get to know exactly how the pitched worked, if it (the pitch) was so sloppy, then that pass from Salam Jiddou would never have reached its intended target.
Chairman of the Local Organising Committee Praful Patel addressed the media yesterday and assured the people of Guwahati that they would not be left out of the football extravaganza and that FIFA Field Specialists are taking good care of the turf and they will get it back into proper condition within three days, just in time for 25th October's semi-final clash.
During halftime and after full-time, a FIFA Field Specialist team was seen in action trying to get the sloppy patches ready and wiping the turf of excess water. The drainage system of the field is also of superior quality compared to other stadiums in the country and yesterday's sloppy nature of the field occurred due to constant rainfall for the past 40 hours, something which has subsided today.
As for the rumours of the semi-final being shifted out of Guwahati, officials from FIFA have no idea from where this news is being circulated, according to sources close to the Local Organising Committee.
“The experts from FIFA, LOC along with the groundsman are working really hard to get the pitch back into its supreme condition, moreover the pitch passed the FIFA playable criteria test, that was the reason why the game was played yesterday now we have three days to get the pitch ready and as the meteorological department has said the amount of rain will decrease from today, we should not have any problems regarding the pitch.”
As for shifting of venues goes according to a source very close to FIFA said that no alternative plan or venue has been selected as no plans for shifting the match from Guwahati is even thought of, and as Praful Patel stated yesterday the people of Guwahati can really look forward to a mouthwatering semi-final on the 25th.