Costa Rica out to deny Mexico
Costa Rica's appearance in the knock-out phase of the FIFA U-17 World Championship Peru 2005 may have surprised a few people, but do not tell that to their coach Geovanny Alfaro.
Alfaro claims he knew all along that his team had the potential to progress from Group A, though he even he may admit privately that he did not quite expect to be top the standings.
He said: "We always believed we could come through the first round. We have already achieved something great because we have eliminated two teams favoured for the title in Ghana and Peru."
Alfaro masterminded the surprise 2:0 win over the tournament hosts and he will need to be at his tactical best to upset the odds once again as much-fancied Mexico are up next in the quarter-finals in Piura on Sunday afternoon.
Much will depend on the fitness of Costa Rica's key midfielder Cesar Elizondo, who was taken off injured in the group game against Ghana and was only able to play the last 20 minutes in the victory over the Peruvians.
Expect Mexico coach Jesus Ramirez to field a hugely changed side from the team he named to start their final Group B game against Turkey. He rested six of his team as they had already qualified for the last eight, including first-choice strikers Giovani Dos Santos and Carlos Vela.
Vela aims to set new record
They seem destined to come back into the equation now and with three goals netted in the first stage, Vela became Mexico's joint top-scorer in U-17 final competitions, matching Jorge Toledano's record set in 1991.
Replacement forward Ever Guzman is likely to make way, despite getting on the scoresheet against Turkey. Though the Mexicans lost that match, Ramirez has declared himself perfectly happy with his players and he was pleased to give a lot of his squad their first taste of action.
That has given him more options to think about against Costa Rica and he said: "I'm happy because all the boys who had not played before have now got some experience. Of course I would rather we had not lost to Turkey as we planned to win the group and go to Iquitos, but that match is in the past now and we have only been looking to the future."
That defeat at least meant Ramirez and his players were able to stay on at the same venue in Piura and he is setting his sights as high as possible now the glittering prize of the FIFA U-17 World Championship is in sight.
With steely determination, he said: "Clearly, we're aiming to become world champions. We've been preparing for this for a long time and we won't let anybody stand in our way."
Both teams have now reached the quarter-finals of this tournament for the third time, though neither nation has made it as far as the semis and there can only be one winner in the race to make history at the Miguel Grau Stadium this time around.