FIFA U17 World Cup: New Zealand coach says Max Mata's red card in tournament opener was harsh
Turkey and New Zealand played out a thrilling 1-1 draw on the opening day of the U17 FIFA World Cup in Mumbai on Friday. Ahmed Kutucu opened the scoring for turkey courtesy a bullet header in the 19th minute.
Captain, Max Mata equalised from a quickly taken free-kick which caught the Turkish defenders off guard. What seemed like a well-earned draw turned sour for the Kiwis as Max was sent off in the dying seconds of the match.
New Zealand coach, Danny Hay, cut a frustrated figure at the post-match press conference. He believes the referee could have avoided brandishing a second yellow so late into the game.
"I looked at it on tape from a couple of different angles, I think it was a pretty tough decision. It's pretty disappointing from our point of view, it came in the 93rd minute."
"The fact that there was no leeway given at that stage of the game, I think is a real shame. The World Cup has been robbed of a good player in the next round," he stated.
Turkey headed into this match as the firm favourites, however, New Zealand gave them a real run for their money. In what was an extremely open game, both sides took risks and created numerous chances which made for pleasant viewing.
Asked if the Turks took the Kiwis lightly, the New Zealand coach suggested that their opponents may not have expected such stiff resistance from his side.
The Young Whites are known for their physical, conservative approach. However, none of that was on display as they cut open the Turkish backline on multiple occasions.
"Maybe they might have been overconfident, you have to ask their coach, I don't know. They would have prepared properly."
"It's the first game of the World Cup, I don't think anybody can take anyone lightly. The longer the game went on, I think they realized that they were in for a fight," he added.
New Zealand are scheduled to play Paraguay next on the 9th of October in Mumbai. But they will have to take the field without their captain, Max Mata who was arguably the best player for the Kiwis tonight. The midfielder marshalled his troops and was a livewire throughout the night.
"I think you saw how good Max was today. A kid from New Zealand was shining and outstanding for us. The reality is you get to bring 21 players to the World Cup so it's an opportunity for another player to step up. It's a big loss for us, he's our captain," he signed off.