Having come up short in their two previous FIFA U-17 World Cup quarter-finals, Uruguay have the chance to set the record straight when they take on tournament revelations Uzbekistan in Monterrey on Sunday. The South Americans will be hoping for a repeat of the only other meeting between the two nations in a FIFA competition: a 3-0 victory at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Egypt 2009.
Uruguay-Uzbekistan, Sunday 3 July, Monterrey, 15.00 (local time)
If statistics are anything to go by, Sunday’s tie would seem to boil down to a duel between Uruguay’s miserly rearguard and Uzbekistan’s dangerous front line. The South Americans have the third-best defensive record of the eight quarter-finalists, having conceded just three goals, while the Central Asians have the third-best attacking record, with their four games yielding them nine goals.
Yet, there is more to the Uzbeks than their finishing prowess. Coach Aleksey Evstafeev has addressed the defensive woes that caused them to crash 4-1 to New Zealand in their opening game, and in their last three outings they have let in a mere two goals.
His opposite number, Fabian Coito, has to decide whether to risk chief goal threat Juan Cruz Mascia, who has been struggling with injury, and though his side have scored the fewest goals of the eight left in contention, he will be buoyed by one comforting fact: the Celeste have found the back of the net in three matches at Mexico 2011 and won the lot.
2 - The number of FIFA U-17 World Cup quarter-finals Uruguay have contested in their history, both of which they lost. At New Zealand 1999 they went down in extra-time to Ghana, and came off second best in a penalty shoot-out against Spain at Nigeria 2009, when they also played their only two previous matches against Asian opposition: a 3-1 defeat to Korea Republic in the group phase and an extra-time win over Iran in the last 16.
“Uzbekistan might not have much tradition, but if they’ve got this far, then it’s for a reason. We need to play our own game, but without ignoring their strong points, like their attack. Uruguay defender Maximiliano Moreira.
“We’ve studied our rivals closely, but the important thing is for us to stay true to ourselves. We want to do Uzbek football proud, we’re feeling composed and we’re looking to making it to the last four,” Uzbekistan coach Aleksey Evstafeev.