Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca flings open its doors on Sunday 10 July for the final of the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup. There could be no greater stage for the ultimate match of these junior world finals, made all the more mouth-watering for the presence of the hosts, who will take on the tricky and tactical Uruguayans as they hunt their first world crown in the age category.
Uruguay-Mexico Sunday 10 July, Mexico City - Estadio Azteca, 18.00 (local time)
All will be on the line on Sunday, when hosts Mexico – who have won all of their six games here on home soil – take on an Uruguay outfit who have been punching above their weight even without the presence of injured star striker Juan Cruz Mascia.
The Mexicans are riding a wave of confidence after tearing through their group, besting Panama and France in tough knockout tests and then finally getting the better of mighty Germany in a semi-final classic in Torreon. The heroic Julio Gomez was an inspiration for the home side in the last four, when they had to claw back from a 2-1 deficit to beat the European powers who scored no fewer than 20 goals at these finals. The Pachuca man, who has already lined up for his club’s first team, scored a pair of goals in a game where he suffered a head injury that required seven stitches. His grit and determination blend well with the overall panache of the likes of Carlos Fierro, Marco Bueno, Giovani Casillas, captain Antonio Briseno and a whole raft of other well-drilled skill merchants.
Uruguay, for their part, will have to cope with their role of villains on 10 July, as the throngs of fans expected to pack the Azteca will demand nothing less than a resounding victory from their Mexican heroes. Even so, Uruguay have been upsetting the formbook all tournament long here at the U-17 finals. With a clear tactical plan, based on counter-attacking and watertight organisation, Fabian Coito’s men didn’t look altogether convincing in the group stages, barely beating Rwanda and losing out to England. They picked it up in the knockout rounds, however, dispatching Uzbekistan and Congo before handing South American rivals Brazil a 3-0 hiding in the semi-final. With a rotating system and keen, eager players like Gaston Silva, Guillermo Mendez and Rodrigo Aguirre, Uruguay will be keen to play the role of spoilers again this Sunday.
105,064 - The number of fans expected to turn up at the Azteca on Sunday to roar on the local side as they target their second FIFA U-17 crown in the space of six years. It will be the third FIFA World Cup final hosted at the famous ground.
“I’m just so proud to lead this Mexican team. We’re a very united squad and I think the effort we all put in as a team was the key to beating the Germans [in the semi-finals]. We’ve all worked hard to reach the final at the Azteca, which is where we all wanted to be when we started out here,” Mexico captain Antonio Briseno.
“We’ve played Mexico several times in the past six months, and I have a high opinion of them as a team. They work very hard at the back, they always try to play good football and they have good players in every position. Beyond the nerves that come with playing in a final, I’m expecting a good match with a lot of ambition from both sides,” Uruguay coach Fabian Coito.