Kicking off the second day of Group A action at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011 is an intriguing clash between Asian champions Korea DPR and European counterparts Netherlands. With both having lost their opening games, the duo will be desperate to take all three points in Morelia to keep alive their hopes of reaching the Round of 16.
Korea Republic-Netherlands, Tuesday 21 June, Morelia 15.00 (local time)
Their surprise defeat against Congo has put the Oranje’s backs against the wall, with anything but a win against the North Koreans giving them a mountain to climb in the final group game against hosts Mexico. Dutch coach Albert Stuivenberg will feel he has little to reproach his players in footballing terms, though he may have some work to do in lifting squad morale after what his charges felt was an unmerited opening reverse.
Up against them are a Korea DPR side beaten 3-1 by El Tri in their opener, a game in which they exhibited plenty of pace counterbalanced by a certain lack of physical presence. Acutely aware of this limitation, will coach An Ye Gun look to go toe-to-toe with Netherlands or opt for the counter-attacking strategy that served Congo so well?
39 – The number of times sides from UEFA and the AFC have gone head-to-head at FIFA U-17 World Cup finals tournaments, with European nations enjoying a clear edge thanks to 25 wins and just five defeats. However, the last of these was suffered by the Dutch themselves, who went down 2-1 to Iran in the group phase of Nigeria 2009.
“We’re expecting another very tough game against the Netherlands but we’ve only got one option: if we want to stay in the competition we need to win,” An Ye Gun, Korea DPR
“We know Korea DPR will play us in a similar way that Congo did, putting a lot of players in midfield and trying to leave no space for us to move the ball. We just have to trust in our system, the one that worked well in the European championship, and take the chances we create in front of goal,” Netherlands right-back Daan Disveld.