Uruguay opened their account at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico with an impressive 3-0 win over Canada at the Estadio Hidalgo. The South Americans, who boast one of the meanest defences at these finals, will try to keep up the form when they meet African first-timers Rwanda, who are still chasing their first goal.
Uruguay-Rwanda, Wednesday 22 June, Pachuca, 15.00 (local time)
Uruguay’s lopsided result against Canada looks far simpler on paper than the reality of it. A heady mixture of organised defending and quick counter-attacking was required of the South Americans. Now sitting atop Group C, the Celeste are determined to keep up the form that led defender Gaston Silva to claim: “We are a strong unit and if we keep our organisation and belief, anything is possible.” Also, in striker Juan Cruz Mascia – who led the scoring charts in CONMEBOL qualifying – they have one of the top strikers at these finals, his goal against the Canadians sounding a warning to the Group C competition.
Rwanda, for their part, will be keen to rebound from their opening 2-0 loss to England. Although the English created far more chances than the African debutants, the Rwandans had a handful of chances of their own and their direct, physical style might well cause problems for Fabian Coito’s Uruguayans. “This is our first World Cup at any level, so this makes it hard on the boys,” was the assessment of Rwanda’s coach Richard Tardy. And with the pressure of opening day off their backs, it could just be time for the East Africans to show the kind of form that got them here.
10 – having conceded only ten times in nine qualifying matches, Uruguay have kept up their stingy reputation here in Mexico. In their last ten competitive matches, they have only conceded ten goals.
“We are a team that relies on defence, but not only on defence. We have a good balance and up front we have special players too. Our main strength is that we are together all the time; we live and die together as a team,” Uruguay defender Gianni Rodriguez.
“We were unlucky not to score against England. We had our problems on the day, but if we had scored first, instead of hitting the crossbar, things would have been very different,” Rwanda coach Richard Tardy.