No gloomy goodbyes: Five players the U-17 World Cup will miss
With the teams going through to the round of 16 identified, it has meant the end of the road for eight teams at the U-17 World Cup. India and North Korea are the only teams that go out without winning a single point, while Chile and the North Koreans remain the only two teams to not score in the group stages. But that hasn't meant there haven't been some heroic performers from these teams.
Here are five players that impressed, but will not be seen in the World Cup Monday onwards.
Rahul Kannoly, India
India's maiden FIFA World Cup outing turned out to be the baptism by fire that it was widely expected to be, but several individual performers stood out such as goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh, midfielder Jeakson Singh, along with defenders Anwar Ali and Sanjeev Stalin.
A somewhat less-celebrated performer in the team was Kerala's Rahul Kannoly, who showed his adaptability across the first two games. Filling in for the suspended Boris Singh at right-back, Kannoly put in the hard yards against a quality USA team in the tournament opener, but would be the first to admit that he found the pace and strength of Tim Weah and Josh Sargent hot to handle.
Against Colombia in the second game, he was pushed up to midfield, playing wide just like Ninthoinganba Meitei. Kannoly's speed and anticipation stood out in that game, and it is easy to forget in the euphoria around Jeakson's historic goal that Kannoly had actually rattled the woodwork, with either side yet to score, in the first half. Ghosting in from the left, he picked up on a long cross-field ball and did everything technically right in going for goal, but missed out on making history by a matter of inches.
Max Mata, New Zealand
New Zealand's captain and forward Max Mata led from the front for the Oceania champions, who were perhaps the unluckiest team to get knocked out in the group stages considering how they scored in each match and even had the lead at 2-1 against Paraguay before losing 4-2.
Mata was suspended for that game, having picked up a second yellow card in the opening match against Turkey, where he also scored to get New Zealand their first point in a scored draw.
Mata would come back for the last group encounter against Mali, and worked well in tandem with Elijah Just to create some early openings for his team. It would prove to be a futile attempt, though, with Charles Spragg's goal the only bright spot in a 3-1 defeat.
Fandje Toure, Guinea
Guinea's captain and striker Toure was one of several players from the African team who impressed but failed to convert enough of their potential into results. Toure scored two goals, one in the dying minutes against Iran and another to pull his team back from 1-0 down against Costa Rica, but should have finished off a lot more.
Toure was symbolic of the strength and natural ability of the Guineans through a demanding group -- Germany were their third and final opponent -- as they dominated possession stats in all group games. It was not difficult to see why; once Toure and most of his team got the ball, it was always difficult to take the ball off them. They also showed a great ability to find themselves in scoring positions despite the pressure from defenders. The fact that they rushed their shots or sometimes just took the wrong decisions about whether to go for goal themselves or play a teammate in was indicative of their inexperience.
That lack of finishing saw them bow out from the group stages, a pity for a team showed so much promise.
Jekob Jeno, New Caledonia
New Caledonia's bravest performance of the U-17 World Cup came from 16-year-old goalkeeper Gaizka Ipeze. He was played in goal for the last of their group matches against Japan and effected several crucial saves to ensure that his team came away with a point from the match.
However, all of that would have come to nought but for captain and midfielder Jeno, who got the goal in a 1-1 draw that gave New Caledonia their first point in a FIFA competition, the least populous country among the 24 nations in India to have done so. Jeno was a physical presence in the New Caledonia midfield, and also roused them to fight in the second half of their opening game against France, where they were trailing 6-0 at half-time. If he had a bit more support among the outfield players, Oceania's newest member at a FIFA event could well have pulled off better scores against France and Honduras as well.
Julio Borquez, Chile
Chilean goalkeeper Julio Borquez had a baptism by fire at the U-17 World Cup, conceding three goals before being sent off late in the 4-0 defeat against England in the opening match. Chile would then lose a second game against Iraq, before being faced with a virtual shootout against Mexico in their last group game.
Borquez returned in goal for the Chileans, and Mexico dominated all the numbers of the game, retaining 77 percent possession and extracting seven saves out of the 25 shots taken by the Mexicans. Chile lacked cutting edge in midfield and offence, but Borquez did his bit in keeping their hopes alive for the freak counter-attack that could have taken them beyond the group stages.