Blistering heat sapped levels of both energy and concentration in the first half, but the heavens opened dramatically after the restart, leaving the artificial pitch unplayable and stopping play for over an hour only minutes after New Zealand captain Gordon Murie had headed his side level.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said New Zealand coach Steve Cain after the match.
“The first half was played in 32 degree heat, and humidity that took it through the roof. Plus, we played on a black rubber mat that made it feel like a sauna, and they were all over us to be honest.”
“We were out on our feet in that first half. We were like that after the warm up. That’s how hot it was.”
“But as soon as we once we turned round in the second half and the wind and the rain started it was their side who didn’t adapt to the more New Zealand conditions.
“We scored an equaliser and probably should have had another one but the game was probably 50-50 once we returned to the game.”
The Young All Whites’ second draw momentarily gave them sole ownership of second spot in Group D – Costa Rica and group leaders Turkey clashed after New Zealand’s match – and now can secure a breakthrough place in the knockout phase with an upset win over Turkey in Calabar on Saturday.
“The best thing is that it’s still in our hands. We went for the win today after the break to try and get the points that would have sent us through but in the end we settled for a draw. But we’ve kept ourselves in contention – we’re still alive.”
A third consecutive draw may yet be enough to qualify for the round of 16 as one of four best third placed teams but the Kiwis would then need to rely on results in other groups.
The Young All Whites endured a torrid first half with the Burkinabe dominating in familiar West African conditions.
New Zealand were guilty of giving away possession often and far too cheaply in all areas of the pitch, feeding wave after wave of attack from the Africans.
Predictably, it was a turnover that led to the opening goal with Victor Nikiema dispossessing a New Zealand defender within sight of goal and smashing the ball past Coey Turipa.
English Premier League referee Howard Webb stopped play at regular intervals to allow players to rehydrate, but the sight of underutilised striker Andrew Milne going down with cramp in the 38th minute was a sign of just how much the conditions were affecting the New Zealanders.
The kiwis rode their luck to stay within touch at halftime and initially welcomed the deluge of rain that arrived just minutes into the second spell.
New Zealand’s renewed energy led to their first real chance of the match. Milne earned a free kick, with Murie claiming a faint but decisive touch on Zane Sole’s delivery to draw the teams level in the 57th minute.
New Zealand’s momentum was halted shortly thereafter with rain driving teams from the field, but the fears of abandonment were allayed when play restarted 90 minutes later.
New Zealand returned with the bit still between their teeth and a second striker, Tim Pilkington, introduced to chase a win that would all but book a place in the second round.
Pilkington had an early chance but the reinvigorated kiwis couldn’t break through, while the Burkinabe found their feet again to draw a pair of classy saves from Coey Turipa and series of desperate blocks by New Zealand defenders.
New Zealand’s final group match will be against Turkey on Saturday evening.
FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009
October 25 – November 15
Group D
October 28
New Zealand: 1 (Gordon MURIE 57)
Burkina Faso: 1 (Victor NIKIEMA 12)
Halftime: 0-1
New Zealand line-up: 1-Coey TURIPA (GK), 3-Adam THOMAS, 5- Gordon MURIE (captain), 7-Josh MORRISON, 8-Stephen KIBBY (6-Tim PILKINGTON 63), 10-Zane SOLE, 13-Michael BUILT (4-Luis ESTEVEZ 75), 14-Thomas SPRAGG, 15-Andrew MILNE, 17-Cameron LINDSAY (11-Jack Hobson-MCVEIGH 80), 18-Ashton PETT.
Substitutes not used: 2-Matt GIBBONS, 9-Nikolai MOLIJN, 12-Tane GENT, 16-Jamie DORIS, 19-Andrew BEVIN, 20-Alex CARR (GK), 21-Patrick GEORGE (GK).
Coach: Steve CAIN (ENG)
Burkina Faso line-up: 1-Germain SANOU (GK), 2-Adama HAIKI, 3-Mouhamed OUATTARA, 6-Ismael ZAGRE, 8-Victor NIKIEMA, 9-Abdoulaye IBRANGO, 10-Fadil SIDO, 14-Dalhata SORO, 15-Ousmane DERRA, 17-Bertrand TRAORE (7-Louckmane OUEDRAOGO 46 / 5-Ibrahim BARRY 73), 19-Aboubacar TRAORE.
Substitutes not used: 4-Delwende YANOGO, 11-Abdoul NIKIEMA, 12-Zidane ZOUNGRANA, 13-Moussa DAO, 16-Lassane NIKKIEMA (GK), 18-Farouck KABORE, 20-Patrick MALO, 21-Abdouraziz GUIRE (GK).
Coach: Rainer WILLFELD (GER).
Cautions: Abdoulaye IBRANGO (BFA), Zane SOLE (NZL).
FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009 – New Zealand results/fixtures
October 25 – November 15
October 26
New Zealand 1 (Michael BUILT 18) Costa Rica 1 (Joel CAMPBELL 35)
October 29
New Zealand 1 (Gordon MURIE 57) Burkina Faso 1 (Victor NIKIEMA 12)
November 1
New Zealand v Turkey
Story courtesy NZF Media
Photo courtesy Action Images
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