Defence rules as Uruguay, Canada tangle

Sunday’s late game is a collision of North and South America as Canada, runners-up at the CONCACAF qualifying competition, take on Uruguay, who reached the quarter-finals at the last edition of the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Nigeria two years ago.

The game
Uruguay-Canada, Sunday 19 June, Pachuca, 18:00 (local time)

The stakes
Canada were a force to reckoned with at the North, Central American and Caribbean qualifiers in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Defence was the Canucks’ strong suit as they worked their way through the group and knockout stages and went on to hold southern neighbours USA scoreless until extra time of the final, which they eventually went on to lose 3-0. Scottish-born coach Sean Fleming is keen to ally a bit of attacking flare to the rigidity of the qualifying stages here on Mexican soil, while still relying on the outstanding goalkeeping talents of Maxime Crépeau.

The Uruguayans arrive in Mexico with a similar reputation as gritty purveyors of the defensive arts. They conceded only ten goals in their nine qualifying matches in Ecuador and managed to finish runners-up thanks to that stodgy approach. Gaston Silva marshals the backline of the side that conceded the fewest goals in the South American preliminaries. The Celeste are not all rearguard action, though, as Juan Cruz Mascia was top scorer in Ecuador and is already drawing comparisons to one established national hero, Diego Forlan.

The stat
13 –
The number of goals conceded by Canada and Uruguay in their respective qualifying competitions in a combined 14 games (five for Canada and nine for Uruguay).

The words

“We’ll have to find a balance in Mexico. We’ll need to work better at keeping the ball and finding the right moments to break forward, the right times to sit back and keep possession. It’s a tricky balance.” Canada coach Sean Fleming.

“We’re a consistent team and we had the character to be able to come back after a slow start in the South American championship and nearly win it. On top of that we also let in fewer goals than anyone else in the final phase,” Uruguay striker Cruz Mascia.