Arkhan Kaka became the first Indonesian to score in a FIFA World Cup of any age level as his Indonesia U-17 side started off their 2023 FIFA U-17 World Cup campaign with a credible 1-1 draw with Ecuador U-17 at the Gelora Bung Tomo in Surabaya on Friday night.
Starting off their U-17 World Cup campaign against a side that finished as runners-up in this year’s South American U-17 Championship, Indonesia showed some nervousness and allowed Ecuador to overrun them in the first few minutes of the match. However, the South Americans themselves were also testing the waters and were unable to capitalize on the chances that they’ve got, thus enabling Indonesia to settle their nerves and keep up with their more illustrious opponents in the quarter-hour mark.
The Young Garudas began to knock onto the Ecuadorian defense, before Bima Sakti’s boys found their way in the 22nd minute. Riski Afrizal slid in a low pass from the left flank, which was met by a touch by Ecuador goalkeeper Cristian Loor. The ball was then deflected towards the direction of Persis Solo wonderkid Arkhan, who made no mistake with his execution much to the joy of the Indonesian supporters flocking the Gelora Bung Tomo.
As Indonesia’s previous World Cup experience at any age level was a 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Hungary back in 1938, Arkhan’s goal made him the first person to score a goal for Indonesia in a World Cup. The fact that November 10th was Heroes’ Day in Indonesia and the goal was scored in Surabaya, the city synonymous with the date, made Arkhan’s achievement even more poetic.
However, six minutes later Ecuador drew level – a cross from Santiago Sanchez from the left was planted into Ikram Al-Ghiffari’s goal by a powerful header from Allen Obando.
The goal caused nerves to once again took hold of the Indonesian players, allowing Ecuador to regain control of the proceedings. The South Americans even took the lead in the 44th minute, however it was chalked off for offside.
Michael Bermudez was the biggest threat towards the Indonesian defense, forcing Sulthan Zaky to literally throw himself into the fray to deny him in the 53rd minute before three minutes later he squandered a golden opportunity after being fed the ball through an excellent cross.
The physical nature of the second half, coupled with fatigue and hot weather, meant that several Indonesia players had to receive treatment throughout the second 45, however it did not deter the Young Garudas’ spirit as they held tight and frustrated Ecuador to no end.
Indonesia’s counterattacking style of play had Ecuador on the edge of their seats, with Hanif Ramadhan surprising the Ecuadorian defense with a long-ranged effort that sadly missed its target in the 75th minute.
Five minutes later it was goalscorer Obando who had the chance to make it 2-1 to Ecuador, but his shot could only rattle the crossbar.
A superb save from Ikram in the 89th minute ensured that even with 13 minutes added on, no further goals would be scored and Indonesia managed to claim a credible point against an established opponent.
Friday’s other World Cup matches saw Morocco downing Panama 2-0 at the Gelora Bung Tomo, ensuring that the North Africans would lead Group A with both Indonesia and Ecuador tailing behind. Meanwhile at the Manahan Stadium in Solo, Mali took control of Group B with a 3-0 thrashing of Uzbekistan, with Spain in 2nd place thanks to their 2-0 win over 10-men Canada.