When the race begins for the coveted FIFA U-17 World Cup 2009 trophy in Group F on Monday 26 October two teams with very different philosophies, namely Uruguay and Korea Republic, will be at opposite ends of the field. The clash of the passionate South Americans with the traditionally disciplined east Asians should provide an early indication as to their potential to cause a stir in this competition
The respective camps are focusing on the task at hand and have every reason to be confident, with both teams aiming to play to their strengths and impose their respective styles onto the opposition. Now that the Asians have overcome the disappointment of having to leave several first-team regulars at home due to injury, they will be hoping their do-or-die attitude can see them through to the knockout stages.
This will be the first time the two nations have met at a FIFA Youth tournament, and following five consecutive defeats at FIFA U-17 World Cups, Uruguay are hoping to notch their first victory since a 5-0 thrashing of New Zealand ten years ago. Meanwhile, the Koreans are determined to put their group stage exit at the last edition on home turf two years ago behind them with a positive showing in Nigeria.
Both teams are widely expected to follow hot favourites Italy into the knockout phase and perhaps surprise a few of the big guns along the way. Still, first on the list for both Roland Marcenaro and Lee Kwang-Jong is qualification from Group F and to prove to the rest of the footballing world that their charges are a match for anyone at this level. Both coaches have stressed the importance of a winning start, so expect two full strength line-ups for Monday's match.
10 - Korea Republic have conceded at least one goal in each of their last ten matches at FIFA U-17 World Cup tournaments. Can the east Asians prove they have what it takes defensively and buck the trend against Uruguay
"Our goal in Nigeria is to enjoy every moment and to gain as much experience as possible. I don't want to talk about winning the tournament, we're just going to take each game as it comes. We'll be preparing for every match as if it were a final and we're well aware that the first game against Korea Republic could be decisive in terms of the rest of the tournament." Roland Marcenaro, Uruguay coach
"Why do the people of Kaduna love us? I think it's because Nigeria won the last tournament in Korea. We're very proud that they're rooting for us." Lee Kwang-Jong, Korea Republic coach