Debutant Harry Nevin scored the winner for the Republic of Ireland Under-16s as they beat Tanzania 1-0 in their opening game of the Aegean Cup in Turkey.
Cork City’s Nevin netted the only goal of the game in the 76th minute as Paul Osam’s side began the tournament in the perfect fashion. They face host nation Turkey in the next game on Thursday.
Nevin made his first start alongside fellow debutants, St Patrick’s Athletic pair Gerard Killane and Jack O’Reilly, and it was O’Reilly who almost gave Ireland the dream start after a minute when he went through on goal but he saw his effort go just wide of the post.
A minute later, O’Reilly was involved again when the Pat's man crossed to John Joe Power but the midfielder saw his attempt blocked.
Tanzania almost took the lead themselves but Jack Ross was on hand to deny a one-on-one situation to keep the game scoreless.
Glory Nzingo almost broke the deadlock in style when his 20-yard strike beat the goalkeeper but not the crossbar.
In the second half, there were chances for both teams and Shamrock Rovers’ Dara McGuinness was introduced for his first appearance for Ireland.
Ross, who had denied the African opponents in the first-half, did superbly to tip Gaby Joseph Fundumo’s effort onto the crossbar to keep Ireland in the game.
However, the winner came in the final few minutes of the 80-minute contest. After short build-up play by Ireland, Cian Kelly produced a super cross that found Nevin at the back post to slot home.
Ireland: Ross, Nevin, Curtis, Grehan (C) (Reilly 62), Barrett, Killane (Ryan 47); Nzingo (Mullins 62), Power (Agbaje 55), Abada; Lonergan (McGuinness 55), Jack O’Reilly (Kelly 47).
Tanzania: Radadhani Kassim, Tirshan Thabit, Ndalo Kamoga, Shauri Nwalupeta, Juma Chasambi (C), Salum Athuman, Abbas Omar, Maulidi Mussa, Abudallah Sabian, Ibrahim Yahya, Miraji.
Substitutes: Rashid Miraji (GK), Philibert Joseph, Evord Shirma, Sefania Nduhje, Hassani Yahaya, Fundumo, Genilson Mlew.
January 17 – Turkey v Ireland, Altinordu Serpi̇l Hamdi̇ Tüzün Sahasi, Turkey, KO 11.30am (Irish time)
January 19 – Ireland v Kosovo, Altinordu Gündüz Teki̇n Onay Sahasi, Turkey, KO 9am (Irish time)
January 21 – Playoff Fixture, venue TBC, KO 9am (Irish time) / Final, Altinordu Serpi̇l Hamdi̇ Tüzün Sahasi, Turkey, KO 11.30am (Irish time)