Group E at Korea 2007 soon turned out to be a veritable goal feast, with the 13 goals scored in the opening two games kicking things off with a bang. In a group where last-gasp strikes were commonplace, one of the pre-tournament favourites USA got off to a terrible start in Changwon, losing their first two games. With Tunisia establishing an early grip on the group, Central Asian outsiders Tajikistan emerged as the biggest surprise package of the group stages. The Diablotins of Belgium also deserve credit for their dogged performances, refusing to give up hope of a last-sixteen spot until the very end.
The tale of the teams
Tunisia: Thanks to the efforts of Nour Hadhria, Youssef Msakni, and Khaled Ayari, coach Maher Kanzari's boys picked up two early wins and were the first team to seal their spot in the second round. The Africans also beat Tajikistan in their final game, ending the group stages with a maximum haul of nine points. The Carthage Eaglets, making their second appearance at the finals, are now looking forward to the challenge ahead.
USA: The Americans struggled to recover from their 4-3 opening-match defeat to Tajikistan, subsequently falling 3-1 at the hands of the Tunisia and facing a humiliating early exit. Clearly feeling the pressure of the burden of expectation placed on them, The Stars and Stripes turned things round in time for their final group game, goals from captain Mykell Bates and Kirk Urso sealing an all-important 2-0 win over Belgium.
Tajikistan: Coach Pulod Kodirov's attack-minded approach brought spectacular results, with the Central Asians disposing of the United States 4-3 and becoming a hit among the Changwon locals. In their next two games Kodirov's young charges were unfortunate to lose out 1-0 to both Belgium and Tunisia, but their third-place group finish was enough to see them go through.
Belgium: Bob Browaeys' Diablotins suffered a 4-2 reverse against Tunisia in their first-ever FIFA U-17 World Cup clash, but picked themselves up quickly to beat Tajikistan 1-0 in their second game. However, the Belgians were eliminated after losing 2-0 to the USA in their final match, and must now take the long flight home.
Moments to savour
• Tunisia's Oussama Boughanmi's opening goal against Belgium kick-started the African side's winning streak. Boughanmi, who scored with a tidy finish from Bilel Ifa's cross from the right, failed to complete the 90 minutes after picking up two yellow cards.
• Fatkhullo Fatkhuloev's winner for Tajikistan against the USA four minutes from full time. The Central Asians defeated The Stars and Stripes to mark a brilliant debut on the world stage.
• Belgium's injury-time clincher against Tajikistan. Christian Benteke's finish gave the Belgians a glimmer of hope in their bid to reach the next round.
• Rafik Dkhil's 94th-minute goal for Tunisia against the USA. The Eaglets' third of the game finally relieved the suffocating American pressure that looked like it might bring an equaliser. The late strike sealed Tunisia's second group win and assured their progress into the next round.
• USA keeper Josh Lambo's audacious long-distance effort against Belgium. Had Belgian custodian Jo Coppens not got his fingertips to Lambo's speculative strike, the US shotstopper may well have recorded the goal of the tournament.
The numbers game
The 24 goals scored in four Korea 2007 matches on 20 August, which comprised 13 scored in Changwon and 11 in Cheonan, was only one short of the record number of goals in a single matchday at a FIFA youth tournament. The record of 25 was set on 11 September 1997 at the FIFA U-17 World Championship Egypt, which included Spain's 13-0 thrashing of New Zealand.
The closing remarks
"Now we face France who are difficult opponents, but we're confident we can win. I still don't know how far this team can go, but this tournament has been an extraordinary experience," Maher Kanzari, Tunisia coach.