Continuous rainfall for the past 36 hours rendered the field at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati almost unplayable ahead of the first 2017 FIFA U17 World Cup quarterfinal between Mali and Ghana on Saturday evening.
But referee Mehdi Abid Charef and his team of officials thought otherwise and gave the green signal to go ahead with the game of football as planned without any signs of the rain coming to a halt. The game which ended in favour of Mali 2-1, Samuel Kwesi Paa Fabin the Ghanaian coach made his intentions heard after the game, taken by surprise that the match even took place amid murky conditions.
"We’ve not encountered anything like this before. I thought the game should have been abandoned and played in some another time but those who are organising they said we have to play so we played," Fabin expressed.
"Following heavy rainfall ahead of the quarter-final between Mali and Ghana in Guwahati, the referee assessed the playability of the pitch upon arriving at the stadium and determined that the match could be played"
It rained 13.4 mm on Saturday and the downpours which begun in the wee hours of Friday morning will continue at least through Monday and the intensity of rains would come down slowly from Tuesday, according to the Meteorological Department.
With the final game of the tournament in the city, a semifinal, slated for a 5 PM kickoff on Wednesday, the organisers will be under immense pressure to repair the field which was left with mud patches and puddles all over after the game.
"Even after we fill in the patches, it will require at least one day of bright sunshine to make it back to normal again. But I would like to have two full days," said a member of the groundstaff who is employed by the stadium authorities.
The rainfall also hampered attendance figures as only 3,706 turned up for the game. A group game between Mexico and Chile had more than 15 thousand in the 25,000-odd seater stadium, which remains the highest attended game at the venue so far.