FIFA U-17 World Cup: Turkey coach admits Mumbai weather affected players' concentration
Favorites Turkey were in for a rude awakening as they were held to a 1-1 draw against New Zealand on the opening day of the FIFA U17 World Cup.
While the Crescent Stars started well, they were challenged on all fronts by a resilient New Zealand outfit who gave it their all.
In fact, the Kiwis could have even won the match had they taken their chances. They were guilty of missing a couple of clear-cut opportunities but went home the happier side at the end of 90 minutes.
Turkey coach, Mehmet Hacioglu admitted that he envisioned a much-improved outing from his young boys. "We did not put on a good performance as expected. We expected much more," he said.
Mehmet suggested that their opponents were successful in stifling his boys, who found it extremely difficult to match the Kiwis in the middle of the park. New Zealand won most of the 50-50 duels and as a result, managed to break at pace on the counter.
"I don't want to talk about individual performances but as a whole team, New Zealand played very well. We couldn't play our style of football that is why the match ended in a draw. If not for New Zealand's physical advantages, the game would have been different," he explained.
Turkey conceded a cheap equalizer, courtesy a quickly taken free kick. The Turkish players had their backs towards the ball and New Zealand's captain, Max Mata made the most of it, slotting home coolly from close range.
Turkey's coach expected his boys to be much more attentive during the free kick. He suggested that the humid climate in Mumbai may have played a role in them conceding the equalizer. The humidity levels in the city were on the higher side at 83%.
"I am disappointed because we conceded due to our own mistake. Even during training, I had told my players to not turn their backs to the ball, always face the ball."
"It was a lack of concentration, we are still trying to adapt to the climate here. We lacked concentration because of the climate," he said.
Though the DY Patil Stadium is a cricket ground, it has been specially altered for the World Cup. New Zealand's coach, Danny Hay hopes that the turf will hold up when they take on Paraguay in their next game.
"Maybe the rain helped us. I thought the conditions were nice, the pitch cut up a little but held pretty well. Hopefully, the next two teams, Mali and Paraguay don't destroy the ground, it will be okay," he said.