Published: Sunday, 15 January 2017 18:28


The first play-off matches of the XXIX International youth football tournament in memory of the first FIFA Vice-President Valentin Granatkin ended in an extraordinary way. The National teams that did not make it to the quarter-finals are now battling for places from 9 to 16. This weekend (January 14-15) the teams that finished on the 3rd and the 4th places in respective groups played cross-sectional matches in the following scheme: 3А – 4В, 3В – 4А, 3С – 4D и 4С – 3D.

These rivalries are remarkable as all the teams that finished last at the group stage, won against teams, who finished on the third places. So it can be said that so-called outsiders – Estonia, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Moldova – will be ranked higher than Tajikistan, India, Lithuania and Iran in the final standings, which will also play against each other in a small tournament for places from 13 to 16.

These local sensations were made on the emerald ground of the Saint Petersburg Sports and Concert Complex in different ways. Players from Estonia and Azerbaijan defeated the Indians and the Iranians respectively in the regulation time. However, these victories were not easy. For instance, the Estonians were losing 0-1 after the own goal by Kermo Pihelgas in the middle of the second half, but did find power to score twice before the final whistle (not to mention the same Pihelgas who became the author of the match-winning goal). The only winning shot was also made by the Azerbaijanis in the very end of the match, when Dogukan Oksuz, who plays in Turkish “Trabzonspor” put the ball into the net.

As for the other two matches, they ended with a penalty shoot-out, where the Belarusians and the Moldavians were more cold-blooded. The Belarusians and the Tajiks had to take eight penalty kicks to determine the winner.

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