All four teams in Group B are still within a shout of reaching the knockout stages of the FIFA World Cup Mexico 2011, but France are the best-placed to advance as things stand. With four points on the board after two matches, Les Bleuets go into Friday’s tie with Jamaica knowing their fate is in their own hands. The Reggae Boyz are without a win in Monterrey so far, but they are not mathematically out of the running just yet.
Jamaica-France, Friday 24 June, Monterrey, 15.00 (local time)
France burst out of the blocks with an impressive 3-0 opening win over Argentina, and it looked as if they had done the hard part by bringing their five-match winless run to an end. However, a 1-1 stalemate against Japan put the brakes on their charge towards a first-place finish in Group B. A point against Jamaica will be enough to see them through to the next round, but a win would send them into the knockout stages with added momentum.
Jamaica are still searching for their first FIFA U-17 World Cup point, but they will have taken heart from their display in their last outing against Argentina. Indeed, Zelhano Barnes’s goal in the 89th minute was Jamaica’s first at an U-17 finals, and it will no doubt put a spring in their step for the rest of the tournament. The Reggae Boyz are not out of the competition yet, and with nothing to lose against France, they will be going all-out to secure an unlikely place in the Round of 16.
10 - Jamaica would be wise to push for an early goal against France. Les Bleuts have opened the scoring in ten FIFA U-17 World Cup matches to date, and they have never gone on to lose a single one. Their record from a leading position stands at seven wins and three draws.
“Everything is still to play for, and we’re going to fight with all we’ve got. I believe in our squad. It won’t be easy against France. They’re an athletic side, they use the flanks well and they’ve got a great defence,” Jamaica left-back Zelhano Barnes.
“Like us, Jamaica were really made to suffer against Japan. They were starved of possession, just like we were. We have to be careful, though, because they’re a team with a great deal of potential,” France coach Patrick Gonfalone.