Realistically, the prize at stake when Ecuador meet Burkina Faso in the final round of Group E fixtures at the FIFA U–17 World Cup Mexico 2011 is second spot behind likely group winners Germany. The South Americans are back on form after beating Panama, but the Africans are fighting for their lives after two defeats on the trot.
It has been a roller-coaster ride for Ecuador at the FIFA U-17 World Cup so far. After crashing to a 6-1 defeat to Germany in their opening match, the South Americans battled to a 2-1 victory over Panama and suddenly find their hopes of the last 16 very much alive. Indeed, victory over Burkina Faso would guarantee their progress. Coach Javier Rodriguez’ team can clearly cope with pressure, as their success over newcomers Panama demonstrated. Should they maintain their new-found form, they must be considered favourites to join the Germans in the round of 16.
In stark contrast, the going-in position for Burkina Faso could hardly be worse. Ben Zerbo and Yaya Bamba are both suspended for red card offences in the previous match, and Aziz Kabore serves a yellow-card ban, so coach Rui Vieria makes at least three enforced changes. Furthermore, even victory would not guarantee the African champions a place in the last 16, as much would then depend on the result in the parallel fixture between Germany and Panama.
1 - Burkina Faso have competed at the U-17 showdown three times in the past, falling at the first hurdle just once back in 1999. The Africans finished third overall in 2001, and lost 4-1 to Spain in the last 16 in 2009.
"On Monday [following the meeting with Germany] the players were very down. But we've won our second match and we're happy again. That's football: you win some, you lose some. My players know they're capable of good football, and showed it against Panama. At a tournament like this, the whole team is boosted by a win. We still have every chance of making the round of 16, but we'll need to do our best against Burkina Faso," Ecuador assistant coach Gonzalo Alcocer.
"We've failed to show what we can do in the first two matches, but we intend to change that in our third match. Obviously, we only have a very slim chance, but we'll play for pride against Ecuador and do our best to win," Burkina Faso coach Rui Vieria.