REPORT | MU17 | Belgium 0-0 Ireland
The Belgium Football Centre in Tubize played host to the stalemate in which Ireland, on another day, may have edged.
Following a very even opening quarter-of-an-hour, it was the visitors who had the first real first real chance of note. Wexford’s Kaylem Harnett did brilliantly to get down the right wing before delivering a drilled low cross across the area. Mason Melia failed to connect but fell quickly to Ike Orazi – who was recently on the move signing for Stade de Reims – at the back post before blazing over.
Growing into the game, the young Irish stars could have taken the lead just minutes after this initial chance. St. Patrick’s Athletic starlet, Melia, latched onto a clever ball over the top before Emile Doucoure out of the Belgian goal, narrowing the angle as the talented 15-year-old frontman saw his shot go agonisingly wide of the post.
This seemed to spring the hosts to life who went close themselves with their first effort of the day, but Alexander Reumers saw his effort well saved by the Irish skipper Joe Collins.
The Belgian backline seemed to be struggling with the pace and directness of Melia – which looked the best avenue to break the deadlock - and just before the break the pacey front man looked to be through on goal again, only for the tightest of offsides to be called much to the frustration of the Irish bench.
The hosts emptied their bench at half time changing all 10-outfield players and started the second half much brighter, putting together a slick move in which Harnett had to be on alert to clear for a corner.
Ireland wrestled back the momentum and missed a decent chance again, but substitute Cathal O’Sullivan failed to keep his shot on target under serious pressure from Adriano Mansala.
Bohemians stopper, Collins, was forced into action to make a top class save to stop Chike Macayle Van de Den from breaking the deadlock, but as the game entered the three minutes of extra time, Ireland finished the stronger only to be denied yet again by some excellent last ditch defending.
Substitute Jaden Umeh did brilliantly to beat Samuel Nibombe before slipping the ball to William Martin, and just as the attacking midfielder went to pull the trigger was met by Anderlecht man, Nunzio Egwanda-Ongena on the cover.
Both sides face a quick turnaround as they lock horns again on Monday at the same location and the quick-fire double header will undoubtedly serve as ideal preparations for Colin O’Brien and his staff as they buckle up for a busy period next month, facing off against Armenia, Iceland and Switzerland at Turner's Cross in U17 Euro qualification action.
Belgium: Emile Doucoure, Joyeux Masanka Bungi (Adriano Mansala, 45’), Zaid Bafdili (Nunzio Egwanda-Ongena, 45’), Konstantinos Karetsas (Samuel Nibombe, 45’), Lenn Minh Tren (Lex Predhomme, 45’), Luca Dalla Costa (Chike Macayle Van de Den, 45’), Josue Banewa Grelaud (Jeff Godelaine, 45’), Mamady Diawara (Saido Nourou Toure, 45’), Alexander Reumers (Sebastian Murru, 45’), Wilson Da Costa (Viktor Noi Vidarsson, 45’), Michiel Cauwel (Noah Makembo, 45’)
Ireland: Joe Collins, Kaylem Harnett, Luca Cailloce, Taylor McCarthy (James Roche, 62’), Harry McGlinchey (Fiachra Coffey, 62’), Luke O’Donnell (Rory Finneran, 45’), Sean Moore (Matthew Moore, 62’), Aaron Ochoa Moloney (Cathal O’Sullivan, 71’), Ike Orazi (William Martin, 62’), Matthew Murray (Kyle Fitzgerald, 45’), Mason Melia (Jaden Umeh, 71’)
International Friendly Result/ Fixtures (Irish Standard Time)
Saturday, September 9 | Friendly | Belgium 0-0 Ireland
Monday, September 11 | Friendly | Belgium v Ireland, Belgium Football Centre, Tubize, 1pm