Champions fall in Morelia, Monterrey
© Getty Images

THE DAY REPLAYED – Group B was the first of these FIFA U-17 finals to close its account. Argentina continued their lifeless and lethargic form here in Mexico, losing out 3-1 to a Japan side that is proving as entertaining as they are effective, with their short-passing game a constant delight. France follow Japan through in second place despite only managing a draw with eliminated Jamaica, the Reggae Boyz’s first-ever point at the tournament. While technically still alive, Argentina’s hopes of a place in the knockout rounds are in tatters with only three points and a poor goal difference.

The later games saw Group A in action for the last time as hosts Mexico, who were already assured of a place in the knockout rounds, finished their account with a perfect three wins from three games, beating the misfiring Netherlands 3-2 in Monterrey to send the champions of Europe out at the first hurdle. The other contest in Morelia saw adopted favourites Congo become the first African side into the last 16 with a 1-1 draw against Korea DPR that sent the Asian champions on their own early flight home.

Results

Korea DPR 1-1 Congo
Mexico 3-2 Netherlands
Japan 3-1 Argentina
Jamaica 1-1 France

Goal of the day

Brian Ferreira 87’, Japan-Argentina
Argentina were simply unable to stand up to the buzzing, technical play of the East Asians. There was one brief, shining moment, however, for the South Americans, whose round of 16 hopes now hang by a thread. Brian Ferreira of Velez collected the ball, measured his options and decided to go it alone with his team-mates seemingly resigned to defeat. He skipped past two defenders, barely entered the Japanese half and unleashed a perfectly weighted chip that caught the Japanese keeper off his line and nestled in the back of the net. It was a moment of the kind of class normally associated with Argentina, but rarely on display here in Mexico.

Memorable moments

A hearty Wave from Monterrey
Fans in Monterrey were so excited about their first time hosting their beloved Mexican national team that they did not even wait for the game to start before the Wave began rolling around the stadium. Although there is much debate about the Mexican Wave’s precise origins, legend has it that the ritual – equal parts annoying and whimsical – actually appeared for the first time at Monterrey’s Estadio Universitario during a group game of the 1986 FIFA World Cup™ in Mexico. The fans in the northern city can now wave a goodbye to their team, who head for Pachuca and a date in the last 16.

Helping hand for Jamaica
Jamaican football is all about tricky footwork, but that cool Caribbean style wasn’t as effective as a good, long toss for the Reggae Boyz on Friday. After just nine minutes, the colourful islanders took the lead for the first time ever at a FIFA U-17 World Cup thanks, in large part, to a long throw-in that was as good as a corner-kick from Omar Holness. Andre Lewis controlled on his chest and slammed home, but in the end the French responded and Jamaica leave Mexico with only a point for pride and the proud memory of scoring a pair of goals.

Standing eight for Cameroon ref, TKO for Argentina
Often times referees are whistled and jeered when they touch the ball, but the crowd in Morelia took pity on Cameroonian match official Neany Allioum, only letting out a good-natured howl of laughter when in the 32nd minute of Argentina’s loss to Japan, Jonathan Silva slammed the ball accidentally with force and cruel accuracy straight off the nose of the African referee. He wobbled like a punch-drunk boxer, but kept his feet and his wits. Silva’s Albiceleste, on the other hand, will be lucky boys indeed to avoid being knocked out after their poor first round produced only three points.

Korea’s sharp-shooters, Congo creators

You would be hard-pressed to find a side at these finals more adept at taking the chances that come their way than Korea DPR. After scoring with their first chance in their opener with Mexico, they put one past the Dutch with their second shot on goal. And again, in their final game against Congo today, they put away their second shot on goal. Even so, the fans in Morelia were cheering with all their might for mercurial creators Congo, who reached the round of 16 after the contest finished 1-1, which proves it takes more than clinical finishing to woo a Mexican crowd.

The stat
4 –
For two days running now at these finals a goal has been scored in the fourth minute. Yesterday in Queretaro, Germany’s Koray Guenter opened the scoring with a close-range finish in a 3-0 win over Burkina Faso, and today, in Morelia, Japan’s Daisuke Taikagi was on hand, also from close in, to send Japan on their way to a big win and top spot in Group B. It was the first time that Japan have beaten a South American team in the tournament’s history and the first time Argentina have lost to an Asian side.

Up next
25 June 2011
Uruguay-England (Torreon 15.00)
Canada-Rwanda (Pachuca 15.00)
USA-New Zealand (Pachuca 18.00)
Czech Republic-Uzbekistan (Torreon 18.00)