Mexico and Japan go into their final Group B fixture at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009 in contrasting moods, following their respective results in the second round of games on Tuesday. El Tri will be guaranteed a place in the knockout phase if they win; any other outcome and their fate could be decided by results elsewhere. For Japan, meanwhile, only victory will suffice if they are to progress, but even that will leave them depending on results elsewhere.
It would be fair to say that Japan have not enjoyed the best of luck thus far in Nigeria. They played well in both their previous games, have scored no fewer than five times yet ended up on the losing side on both occasions. Despite their coach's insistence that his charges have what it takes to secure a podium finish, the Asians now find themselves needing a win in their final game and other results to go their way to prolong their stay in west Africa.
Los Aztecas, for their part, got their campaign back on track with a win over Brazil in their second outing and will fight it out for top-two finish alongside A Seleção and the already-qualified Switzerland, who face off at the same time in Abuja. A win of any descriptions for the North Americans would guarantee them a place in the last sixteen.
"Against Brazil we made some tactical changes to our normal style of play as we simply had to get a result. Against Japan, however, you'll see a different Mexico and a more open game. We'll be playing to win and to secure our passage to the next round." Jose Luis Gonzalez China, Mexico coach.
"Mexico are a very good team, but we've also shown we can play good football despite losing our previous games. So long as we have a mathematical chance, we'll fight tooth and nail to make it out of the group. And you'll see that on Friday." Yutaka Ikeuchi, Japan coach.