THE DAY REPLAYED – There was precious little drama in the first pair of knockout games at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011, with Brazil and Uzbekistan running out easy winners. The Selecao met up with Ecuador in their familiar venue of Guadalajara, Ademilson scoring again and Leo adding a late insurance goal in a simple 2-0 win against a defensive-minded opponent. Uzbekistan, for their part, have kept the dream alive, booking passage to the quarter-finals in their first-ever appearance at a junior world finals with a convincing 4-0 victory of nine-man Australia, who looked tired and deflated from their difficult group campaign.
Japan also moved on to the last eight with minimal resistance, hammering hopeful Oceania outfit New Zealand by a resounding 6-0. The clash between Congo and Uruguay in Morelia proved the true contest on the day’s menu, and the only one in which both teams found the back of the net. In the end, the realistic Uruguayans prevailed and tearful Congo trudged off to a standing ovation from the Morelia faithful.
The Uruguayans will now take on Uzbekistan in the quarter-finals, while Brazil and Japan will lock horns in a mouth-watering battle of entertainers.
Uzbekistan 4-0 Australia
Brazil 2-0 Ecuador
Congo 1-2 Uruguay
Japan 6-0 New Zealand
Goal of the day
Hideki Ishige 20’, Japan-New Zealand
Japan’s dazzling technique has been one of the highlights of Mexico 2011, and the Samurai Blue piled on the style again in their meeting with the gritty Kiwis in Monterrey. Hideki Ishige typified the East Asians’ silky style after 20 minutes, racing to the byline and shaping as if to cross, but instead lofting a clever chip up and over Scott Basalaj and into the net. Only the Shimizu S-Pulse midfielder himself can tell you if his intention was to cross or shoot, but considering the Japanese player tried the same trick just one minute before on the other side of the pitch, the smart money is on shot.
Ademilson’s jackhammer drives Brazil
Brazilian football is often associated with subtle slight of foot, but it is the direct, pounding jackhammer approach of one Ademilson that has set the Selecao alight here in Mexico. The Sao Paulo striker, who only secured a spot in the team on the eve of the finals, scored a stunning goal from distance to help undo Ecuador’s stingy resistance and book Brazil a place in the quarter-finals. It was his fourth goal of the tournament, putting him just behind Ivorian prodigy Souleymane Coulibaly on the scorers’ chart, and his fourth ferocious pile-driver that threatened to burst the net.
Déjà vu in Torreon
Debutants Uzbekistan and Australia met in the semi-finals of the Asian qualifying tournament in Tashkent, and today’s replay began and ended the same way. Talismanic Abbosbek Makhstaliev opened the scoring once again, this time in the 11th minute rather than the 17th, en route to an Uzbek win and a continuation of their historic run here in Mexico with a place in the quarter-finals. In scoring four in the lopsided win in Torreon, they also matched the number of goals they conceded in their group opener against Australia’s near neighbours New Zealand.
11 minutes of heaven, hell
Japan came out all guns blazing in their contest against New Zealand, scoring their first three goals inside a torrid span from the 20th to the 32nd minute. While the Japanese were celebrating scoring three goals in one half for the first time, and even added a fourth before the break, the Kiwis were cursing their misfortune as they conceded more goals in those 11 minutes than they had in their three previous games combined. Japan went on to make happier history of their own: their 6-0 win is the biggest scoreline they have racked up in the tournament’s history.
Red mist descends on Hudanski
Congo coach Eddie Hudanski has been one of the true characters at these finals, one of those inimitable, hot-headed football philosophers who loves to speak his mind. His animated and vocal approach got him into trouble against Uruguay, when what he thought was a missed offside call led to the South Americans rattling the crossbar. The coach’s protestations saw him earn a red card for his troubles, at which point he climbed into the seats behind the bench to a standing ovation from the crowd at the Estadio Morelos in Morelia, who grew to love Hudanski’s team and his antics.
5 – The number of times that Brazil have met a fellow South American side at the FIFA U-17 World Cup, and the number of times they have come out victorious. Five is also the number of goals Ecuador scored at these finals, all of them coming in the second half. They were to have no such luck on this day at the Estadio Guadalajara, however, as they were held scoreless by a smashing Brazil who are hunting their fourth U-17 world crown.
Thursday 30 June 2011
Germany-USA (Queretaro, 15.00)
England-Argentina (Pachuca, 15.00)
France-Côte d'Ivoire (Queretaro, 18.00)
Mexico-Panama (Pachuca, 18.00)