Mexico and Congo kicked off their Group A challenges with wins at the weekend and now face off in Morelia with designs on taking what could be a decisive step towards the Round of 16 at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011. Depending on the result of the other game in the section, three points here could be enough to take the victors over the line one game early.
The tournament hosts brushed off their first-day nerves with a 3-1 defeat of Korea DPR, recovering from the loss of an early goal to run out comfortable winners. That comeback ought to instil Raul Gutierrez’s charges with confidence, though they can expect a sterner test of their credentials from the powerful and hard-running Congolese.
The Africans showed in their 1-0 win over Netherlands that they have the resources to counter a sophisticated passing game, and there is every reason to believe they can upset the rhythm of the cultured Mexicans. And while they may not have the strength in depth to exert sustained pressure on opposing goalkeepers, in Mavis Tchibota and Bel Epako they have two strikers who carry a potent threat up front.
1991 - The year that Mexico and Congo met for the first and only time so far in the FIFA U-17 World Cup, which was held in Italy that year. The Africans prevailed 2-1 in the group phase, with neither side going on to reach the next round.
“Congo will be tougher opponents than the North Koreans. They’re tall, strong and won’t get tired because they’re used to the heat. But we know what to do against them, and now that we’ve won our first match we should be able to get into the game straightaway,” Mexico midfielder Giovani Casillas
“It was amazing how the Mexican fans supported us in our first game; they made us feel like we were in Congo. This time it will be different, though, as we are playing their beloved national team. We will show Mexico respect, but we will not fear them,” Congo midfielder Mavis Tchibota.