On the one hand you have the neat, easy-on-the-eye football of the Netherlands, on the other the pace-and power-packed style of African challengers Congo – all of which, on paper at least, looks set to offer the fans in Morelia an intriguing contest in the final match of the opening day of Group A.
Fresh from being crowned European U-17 champions for the first time at May’s continental event in Serbia, beating the likes of England and Germany along the way, the Netherlands would logically expect to bear the favourites’ tag in their Mexico 2011 opener. However, they would do well to be wary of a Congolese outfit which emphatically downed regional heavyweights Nigeria in the process of claiming third spot in the African qualifying tournament in Rwanda earlier this year.
In purely footballing terms, the match hints at being a classic clash of styles, though of course both sides will be equally determined to kick off their campaign with a victory.
0 – The number of times that the Netherlands have drawn in nine encounters played at final tournaments of the FIFA U-17 World Cup. Spanning their two previous appearances at the showpiece event, at Peru 2005 and Nigeria 2007, the Oranje won five and lost four games, with two of those wins coming against Congo’s African neighbours Gambia.
“We’re a strong and attack-minded team, and we’re capable of beating the Dutch in our opening game. We’ve studied them very carefully and we know where their weak links are,” Congo coach Eddie Hudanski.
“This first game will be crucial because, just like during the European qualifying phase, it’ll help us to judge where we are at – just how good we are. Of course we’ve got a huge amount of faith in our players, but there are so many other factors that are beyond our control,” the Netherlands coach Albert Stuivenberg.