Debutants Niger got their campaign off to a positive start as they eked out a 1-0 win over North Korea in a Group D match of the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Kochi on Saturday.
Playing in their first-ever World Cup game, Salim Abdourahmane scored what turned out to be the winner, in the 59th minute, off an assist by Habibou Sofiane at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
Niger started on an attacking note but Ibrahim Boubacar’s right-footed shot from the right side of the box was saved by the Korean backline.
A minute later, in the 10th minute, there was another missed attempt as Habibou Sofiane’s long-ranger from the left did not find the target.
Niger’s Djibrilla Ibrahim was shown a yellow card for a foul. On and off, Korea created chances but failed to threaten the Niger defence.
There was a brief interruption before the half hour mark because of an injury to Niger’s Rachid Alfari, who was replaced by Kader Aboubacar a few minutes later.
The Koren outfit also had to make an early substitution due to an injury to Kung Jin Song, who was replaced by Ri Kang Guk.
Before the first half drew to a close, Sin Kwang Sok’s right footed shot from more than 35 yards went high and wide to the right following a corner, as North Korea tried to match the Africans.
Then, Djibrilla Ibrahim’s header from the centre of the box off a Karim Tinni cross went to left, and Habibou Sofiane’s attempt from the right side was saved.
In the second half, both Niger and North Korea created opportunities, but all their efforts culminated in only one goal.
Eight minutes were added to the regulation time because of injury-related breaks, but still Korea could not find the equaliser, as Niger secured full points.