Two teams still in control of their own destinies will lock horns at the Estadio Morelos on Friday, with Group B rivals Japan and Argentina both desperate to claim a last-16 berth at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011.
After two games apiece, Japan have possibly offered up the most attractive football on show in Group B. Well-organised, unselfish and lightning quick, the Samurai Blue have dominated both their matches so far with close to 60 per cent ball possession each time. They have yet to fully translate that into results, though, having edged to a slender 1-0 win over Jamaica before being held to a 1-1 draw by France as their opponents rallied in the second half. The meeting with Argentina is therefore the perfect opportunity for Hirofumi Yoshitake’s men to get everything to click, with a place in the knockout phase the prize on offer.
Practically invisible as they succumbed 3-0 to France in their opener, La Albiceleste were very much under the microscope as they headed into their second game against Jamaica. Displaying impressive focus, the South American side avoided any potential pitfalls to triumph 2-1 and end a run of three consecutive defeats in the FIFA U-17 World Cup. That has brought confidence back and their match fitness has undoubtedly improved too, after the eruption of a volcano in Chile delayed their arrival on Mexican soil. They will therefore have no excuses as they prepare for this crucial contest.
18 – Despite five previous appearances at the FIFA U-17 World Cup, Japan have only once advanced beyond the group stage, on home soil 18 years ago.
"I have confidence in my players. I think they’re capable of earning qualification for the last 16 against Argentina, but I prefer not to build any castles in the air as Argentina are a great team,” Hirofumi Yoshitake, Japan coach.