Group C: Talented Brazilians, Vieira and the Portuguese goal machine
1. Brazil, 7 pts
The two-time FIFA U-17 world champions finished top of Group C, unbeaten in their three games at the Ratina stadium in Tampere. After struggling in their opener against Cameroon as a result of "being greedy and trying too hard” according to coach Paqueta, the young South Americans cruised through their next two games.
Abuda was soon sowing panic with his well-timed runs, dizzying dribbles, and clever flick-ons for fellow attacking trouble-maker Evandro. The two literally took Portugal and Yemen to pieces, ably served by a team that is getting better with every passing game. Ederson, Arouca and the livewire Jonathan have all made hay in the Finnish sun.
Leo is another stand-out; the modern wing back par excellence, he is defensive bull terrier, flying winger, clinical passer and goalscorer all rolled into one.
2. Portugal, 4 pts
The European champions have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous in Finland, from a courageous comeback (Yemen) to a poor performance (Brazil) by way of collective surrender when 5-0 up (Cameroon). Despite conceding 13 goals and finishing with the worst defensive record in the whole tournament, they still went through!
Aside from Paulo Machado, who pops up all over the park (even up front where he is adept at threading final balls in to the strikers), Portugal look best going forward. Manuel Curto has 4 goals to his name, including a quickfire hat-trick against Cameroon.
And then there is FC Porto youngster Vieira de Freitas. The 60 metre lob the 17½-year-old (1,70m, 65kg) pulled off against the Africans was quite astounding. "He sees things other players don’t see," remarked coach Antonio Violante, and he was not wrong there. Vieira is one to watch.
3. Cameroon, 3 pts
Just like the other two African sides in the competition, Cameroon never really got going and were knocked out in the first round for the first time in the history of the FIFA U-17 World Championship.
Keeper Oumarou Idrissou saved them on numerous occasions and their coach gave them a rollicking to try and get them going, but it was to no avail as they let Portugal get off to a flying start in their decider before fighting back when it was just too late.
Two strikers took the eye: Joseph Mawaye hit a goal in each of the first two games and then turned passer in the Portugal epic. The Douala centre-forward has the handy knack of finding space and slipping in unnoticed behind defences. Serge Ngal nearly saved the day with a blinding, aggressive display against Portugal.
4. Yemen, 1 pt
The Yemenis raised a few eyebrows in Group C with their pace and technique. 2-0 up in their opening game against Portugal, Al Sunaini’s boys came close to a shock win, and even when they were behind they kept going forward and never gave up.
efender Mohanad Munassar and striker Sami Juaim emerged from this very even group with distinction, but the most talented player from the Middle East outfit was unquestionably Abdulelah Sharyan. Sharyan was an inspiration, driving his team on, setting up his forwards and finding the net himself. His efforts, allied with those of his teammates mean Yemen can look back with pride on their first ever FIFA competition.