Monday's second Group A matchday in Trujillo pairs Ghana with Costa Rica and Peru with China. With the teams level on one point and a goal apiece, defeat would all but consign the losers to failure at the first hurdle.
Ghana v Costa Rica: Fight for survival
Ghana boss David Duncan neatly summed up the consequences of the opening matchday stalemate: "It's as if the tournament was starting again from scratch," surveying the Group A standings with all four teams on one point and an identical goal difference. The African championship runners-up lost Mubarak Wakaso to an early sending-off against hosts Peru and conceded the opening goal just a few minutes later, but clawed their way back into the match to secure a reasonable position for their remaining fixtures. The second game will be decisive, Duncan told FIFA.com. "With all of us on one point, this match will be a fight for survival. It'll all be done and dusted before we get into the third game," he forecast. Duncan was unwilling to reveal which of his players would stand in for the suspended Wakaso. "We have plenty of options, so it depends on our tactics for this game."
The Costa Ricans are no tactical novices themselves and go into the meeting with Ghana well aware a point is the very least they will need to preserve their hopes of progressing. Striker Cesar Elizondo made a brief 20-minute appearance towards the end of the opener against China, but is expected to add his dynamic presence to the starting line-up against the Africans. Costa Rica coach Geovanny Alfaro is expecting a tense encounter: "Every game in this group will be tough, and this match against very strong opponents is no exception. I'm expecting a tight and fiercely-contested match," Alfaro told FIFA.com.
Peru v China: Rising expectations for host nation
Peru's 1-1 draw against African runners-up Ghana has prompted a revision of the host nation's aims for the tournament. "We started out with the simple goal of surviving the group, but now we obviously want to achieve the very best we can. Yesterday's match suggests we could even go a little further," Peru coach José Pavoni revealed to FIFA.com.
Pavoni is set to choose tactics designed to neutralise the threat posed by the pacy Chinese. "We'll sit down and analyse our opponents' strengths and weaknesses, and we'll opt for tactics to prevent them playing to their strengths. That should give us a decent chance of winning the match." The 51-year-old was pleased with his players' tenacity and resolve in their opening match, explicitly praising their strength of character in a first outing in front of a large and raucous crowd.
Naturally enough, the Chinese fancy their chances too after the dead heat in the first round of matches, and have no intention of gifting the hosts a vital victory. Coach Zhang Ning's side turned in an impressive first half in the 1-1 draw with Costa Rica, creating a string of inviting openings during the early exchanges. However, China ran up against a physical barrier in the second period as the supply of dangerous passes from midfield slowly but surely dried up. "It's a problem we intend to fix," Zhang informed FIFA.com. "Peru are a good side. They're a dangerous attacking unit, and they work well as a team in this respect." Zhang announced an offensive game plan for the crunch encounter: "We'll go all out for victory. We'll be looking to win the game with attacking tactics," he declared.