Japan and Jamaica ready to joust

It will be the turn of outsiders Japan and Jamaica to take centre-stage in the second Group B encounter, and while both will be keen to find their feet at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011, building confidence before tackling section favourites France and Argentina will be high on the agenda.

The game
Japan-Jamaica, Saturday 18 June, Monterrey, 18.00 (local time)

The stakes
Knocked out of their continental championships at the semi-final stage by Korea DPR and USA respectively, neither Japan nor Jamaica could claim to have been imperious en route to these finals in Mexico. The two sides will therefore be anxious to raise belief levels as they meet for the first time in the competition, leaving this opening match already looking critical for both teams.

Indeed, with France and Argentina starting out as heavy favourites in the group, taking maximum points in this game will be vital. As Reggae Boyz coach Wendell Downswell put it: “We’re only thinking about our match against Japan. As for France and Argentina, we’ll see about them later.” Defeat is likely to prove calamitous even at this early stage, with neither Les Bleuets nor La Albiceleste likely to make things easy, but the victors will move on with genuine hopes of reaching the knockout phase – or return there in Japan’s case, the Samurai Blue having emerged from the group stage once before, on home soil in 1993.

The stat
– The number of years since Jamaica graced their last FIFA final tournament, the FIFA U-20 World Cup Argentina 2001. The Reggae Boyz also conceded ten goals in their only previous appearance in this competition, failing to net any of their own.

The words
"We’re focusing all our desire and energy on this match. If we can start well, we’ll be off and running. After that, who knows what could happen?” Wendell Downswell, Jamaica coach.

"We’re hoping to go all the way to the final. For that to happen, the players need to believe in themselves and make the absolute most of this experience. If they can do that, anything becomes possible,” Hirofumi Yoshitake, Japan coach.