Unlike the other three groups at the FIFA U-17 World Championship, the pressure is off in Group B as Matchday 3 approaches. In Piura, Mexico and Turkey square off for first place in the group, while Uruguay and Australia will be looking to salvage some pride in Chiclayo before heading home. Read on as FIFA.com previews Thursday's action.
First-place showdown for Mexico and Turkey
Monday's games saw Mexico and Turkey secure their places in the quarter-finals, and the two highfliers face off in the afternoon heat of Piura to decide the winner of Group B (kick-off: 3.30 pm).
Having won both their games and scored five goals without reply in the process, the Mexicans are now seen as one of the tournament favourites. "We've worked really hard for a long time to get into this position and I'm delighted for the boys," said a proud Mexico coach Jesús Ramírez. Better known back home as Chucho, Ramírez also set out his objectives for the game against the European champions: "I'll try to rest some of my key players for the quarter-finals. I don't want them to pick up injuries now. We can use the game against the Turks to experiment a little and also try to secure first place."
It seems unlikely, then, that star strikers Giovani Dos Santos and Carlos Vela, who both attracted rave reviews for their performances against Uruguay and Australia, will play the full 90 minutes. "They are fantastic players with tremendous potential, but they're able to perform at that level thanks to the players they have behind them," added Rámirez.
The situation is not quite as straightforward for the Turks. They have a worse goal difference than their opponents on Thursday (+2 as opposed to Mexico's +5) and need a win to claim top spot. "We'll be looking to keep our good form going against Mexico and we'll even be trying a few new tactics out. But we also want to win the group, make no mistake," said an impassive Abdullah Avci, who must have found Monday's nail-biting 3-2 win over Uruguay hard to watch. "No matter what obstacles they put in our way, I knew we would end up winning the game. I have complete faith in these boys who've worked so hard to get here," he added.
All the indications are that Avci will be naming a strong side as he pursues top spot in the group in this his first FIFA U-17 World Championship.
Pride at stake for Australia and Uruguay
Meanwhile, over in Chiclayo, Australia and Uruguay are limbering up for their Group B wooden-spoon clash (kick-off: 3.30pm) with all the hopes and expectations of only a week ago having evaporated in the Peruvian sky. With two defeats to their name, Ange Postecoglou's side have shipped four goals and failed to score. The coach refused to be downhearted, though: "We don't want to depart Peru with a record of played three, lost three. We'll be looking for a win to avoid more disappointment and to leave a good impression," he said.
"Every FIFA tournament we play in is another step forward for Australian football. Obviously the qualification games were much easier than the ones here, but there's no doubt we're learning more and more all the time as we look to improve in every area," commented Postecoglou.
Still trying to come to terms with his side's shattering defeat to Turkey, Uruguay chief Gustavo Ferrín was in far less optimistic mood. "There's great sadness in the camp. We prepared so well for the tournament. When we left Uruguay we promised to play good football, and I'm very proud to say today that we've done that. We played so well and didn't deserve to lose." Coach Ferrín said he would be picking a full-strength side to face the Australians and is taking the game very seriously: "The Uruguay jersey is motivation enough for any game," he added defiantly.