Spain and Burkina Faso will go head-to-head in their last-16 clash at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009 on Thursday, in what will be the last game to be played at the Sani Abacha Stadium in the northern city of Kano. Spirits will be high in both camps after a group stage in which each fulfilled their true potential.
Spain-Burkina Faso, Kano, Thursday 5 November 2009, 16:00 (local time)
After qualifying as Group E winners, Spain will be aspiring to match the achievements of their colleagues who reached the final of Korea 2007. Although they earned maximum points in the group stage, they did not have it all their own way, having to come back from a goal down with 10 men to beat USA 2-1. They then showed all their quality in a 3-1 win over UAE, followed by a comfortable 4-1 defeat of newcomers Malawi, in which La Rojita rested some of their big names. Their next goal will be to make it four out of four against the Burkinabe.
The young Etalons had to be on their mettle to come from behind to grab second place in Group D. In an unconvincing first match, they suffered a 1-0 defeat to Turkey, who ultimately finished group winners. Next came a 1-1 draw against New Zealand, played in torrential rain in Enugu, and finally an emphatic 4-1 win over Costa Rica to seal qualification in style.
1 - The number of times Spain have played Burkina Faso in previous FIFA U-17 World Cups. The solitary match-up took place in the group stage at Trinidad and Tobago 2001, with the Africans running out 1-0 winners on their way to the semi-finals and a historic third-placed finish.
"We've got a lot of respect for our opponents. Burkina Faso are a very strong and pacy team, but we've got our strengths as well. It'll be the type of game which could turn on a single error. We're going into it in the hope of extending our stay at Nigeria 2009." Gines Melendez, Spain coach.
"The match against Spain will be extremely tough, as they're one of the favourites to win the World Cup. It will be a huge challenge for us because they play great football, but we can do it. We've had a good rest in the last few days and now we're ready to go for it." Rainer Willfeld, Burkina Faso coach