Congo’s round-of-16 tie with Uruguay at the Estadio Morelos in Morelia has an intriguing look about it. Both sides finished runners-up in their groups behind unbeaten teams who inflicted their only defeats on them so far.
The attack-minded Red Devils displayed great athleticism in their three group games, ending the first round with a mature performance against Korea DPR, laced with some fine possession football. On the downside, Eddie Hudanski’s youngsters have been profligate in front of goal and occasionally absent-minded at the back, inconsistencies that could yet cost them dear in these knockout stages. The coach will have to reshuffle his pack following injury to Melvan Lekandza, although the trio of Cisse Bassoumba, Gildas Mpassi and Gloire Mayanith have all completed their respective suspensions.
The tactically disciplined Uruguayans boast a miserly defence and a genuine goalscorer in Juan Cruz Mascia, who was rested from their third group game against England with Wednesday’s tie in mind. Though not the most fluid of teams at times, La Celeste should know what to expect in Morelia, having already faced African opposition in Rwanda in the first round, a game they won in stoppage time.
4 - The number of times Uruguay have taken on African teams in the FIFA U-17 World Cup. Beaten twice by Ghana, in 1991 and 1999, the Uruguayans overcame Algeria at Nigeria 2009 and then Rwanda here in the group phase. The Congolese have faced South American opposition only once before, losing 4-2 to Argentina in 1985.
“Against Korea DPR we saw the team that competed in the African Championship and knows how to play with the ball. We’ve had time to get our strength back and prepare for this game, and our aim now is to keep on getting good results,” Congo coach Eddie Hudansky.
“I’m expecting a similar game to the one we had with Rwanda. We were watchful against them and we managed to block their path to goal. The aim is to do that again, while also taking the initiative. If we don’t, they could cause us problems because they run hard,” Uruguay midfielder Leonardo Pais.