Fernandez boys keep the faith
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So common is the surname Fernandez in Argentinian phone directories that it comes as no surprise to discover that Albiceleste duo Santiago and Gustavo are in no way related. Yes despite this absence of blood ties, the pair have formed bonds of their own as members of the attacking unit attempting to inspire Argentina to success at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Korea 2007.

Moreover, they are also right-footed, although that is where the similarities end. A creative midfielder, Santiago was born in Rosario (Santa Fe Province) and has been part of the youth set-up at Newell's Old Boys since he was a four-year-old. Striker namesake Gustavo hails from Concordia (Entre Rios Province) and started out at Renato Cesarini, where the talents of more than a few of his compatriots were first nurtured. And so successful was he there that River Plate snapped up his goalscoring services six months ago.

They may not be room-mates either, but as Santiago explains, Gustavo is a regular visitor to his room. "I'm always letting him borrow my computer so he can chat to his friends and family back in Buenos Aires. I think I might start charging him you know," he chuckles. "Yes, it's true," confirms goal-hungry Gustavo, "but that just shows you what a good kid he is. We've known each other for six months now and we've become good friends."

Although the two have yet to face each other on the field of play, the fact that they have spent half a year together in the national side means they are well qualified to describe each other's virtues. "Gustavo is a strong and very alert centre-forward and his movement across the line is exceptional. He's a great finisher too," enthuses Santiago.

It is a compliment Gustavo is more than happy to return. "Santi makes everything look so easy. He always makes himself available for a pass, he's got superb vision and he gets into the box too. He's just warming up and when he really gets going I know he'll slip a ball through to me somehow. I just hope I can put it away," he says with a broad grin on his face.

Confidence intact
Both are agreed that the draw against Syria was something of a shock to the system. "I think we played really well in the first 20 minutes or so, but things got a lot tougher in the second half. Tiredness crept in, we didn't see as much of the ball, and they got forward more than we did," explains Gustavo before Santiago chips in with his views on the game. "That said, a goal would have opened the game up. It's a shame we couldn't finish the job off."

Despite the disappointment of points dropped, the Fernandez boys are still confident of a place in the knockout rounds. "Plenty of U-20 Argentina sides have lost their opening games and gone on to win tournaments," stresses Santiago, who lists Pablo Aimar as one of his idols. "We just need to keep a cool head," adds Gustavo, a devotee of Uruguayan legend Enzo Francescoli. "The team is looking strong and I'm sure we'll do the business against Honduras."

And before rejoining the rest of the squad for a bite to eat, Santiago leaves us with his thoughts on their next opponents. "Some people say they've got a similar style to us, but I just hope they come out and play against us, as that will give us more space to move the ball around and attack them. All the same we need to be on our guard in defence and keep a close eye on their forwards, as they're very quick. Provided we play well and stay calm, we ought to get the win we need."