On the back of their swashbuckling opening-game victory over USA, Tajikistan are looking to continue their dream start to their first-ever FIFA tournament against fellow FIFA U-17 World Cup debutants Belgium. The fans in Changwon are set to witness an intriguing duel which pits the Asian outfit's thrilling attacking style against the Europeans' well-drilled backline.
While both Tajikistan and Belgium are making their first appearance at the showpiece event, they made starkly contrasting starts to their Korean adventure. The Asian surprise packages are on a high after a dramatic 4-3 win over the USA, while the Diablotins prop up Group E after their 4-2 defeat to Tunisia. The Tajikistani players brought all their determination and single-mindedness to the fore in their opening game, snatching victory with two long-range efforts in the last ten minutes. Their Belgian opponents, meanwhile, can take heart from their stirring, if ultimately vain, fightback from two goals down against Tunisia.
Should Tajikistan avoid defeat they can turn their thoughts to the Round of 16, even before their final group match against Tunisia in Suwon on Sunday. The Belgians, set to take on the USA in their final match, are desperate for all three points to stay in the frame.
Neither side has any injury concerns, though Tajikistan midfielder Fatkhullo Fatkhuloev and Belgium defender Koen Hustinx will be suspended for their teams' final group matches should they see yellow.
The two sides have never met in competitive or friendly action, making Thursday's Korea 2007 encounter a historic first.